Types of face mask and their effectiveness against coronavirus.
Face mask is now becoming a common sight in our community, workplace and schools. It is now the new norm and no longer exclusive to the health care setting or the building industry. Face masks are designed to prevent user from inhaling harmful airborne particles, whether these are dust particles or pathogens carrying droplets such as viruses and bacteria. A good face mask can also reduce harmful particles being expelled into the air. Following the recent pandemic outbreak there is now an increase in the number of masks available in the market to the general public, with so much option available it can get confusing as to which mask you should go for:
Surgical masks- Standard disposable masks normally used by health care professionals, this loose fitting mask can protect wearer from droplets splashes which may contain harmful viruses and bacteria's, with its 3 ply materials the surgical masks can filter out large particles.
Fabric masks- These tend to be washable and reusable available in multiple designs and fabrics, ideal for the fashion-conscious individual. Cloth masks tend to trap droplets.
Respirators/ KN95- The KN95 mask is considered as one of the higher performing masks with its integrated filter made of 5 layers of material, designed to filter 95% particles, with an integrated nose clip the KN95 can be adjusted to fit the users face, ensuring there is a safe seal.
It should be noted that face masks alone may not be able to protect you from coronavirus but we need to combine other preventative measures such as social distancing and washing hands in order to slow the spread of this deadly virus.
With so many variations of the face mask and the outbreak of coronavirus the efficacy of different types of mask has become hot topic. Recent research carried out by leading epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding has suggested the use of certain face masks may not be sufficient protection against the new variant. The expert has advised that individuals should use the gold standard mask such as KN95, 3 ply surgical masks and FFP2, which tend to have filters in them in order to ensure you have the highest level of protection against the deadly new variant of coronavirus.
Concerns over the rise in hospital admissions despite the restrictions being applied to the UK confirms that the new variant B.1.1.7 is deadlier than the original strain and experts are urging everyone to use stronger face coverings that not only protects themselves but also others.
Numerous research have also confirmed the efficacy of the premium face which have filters within the mask that would block particles from penetrating the mask. Research have shown masks such as KN95 can provide 95% protection against particles such as dust and viruses as compared to fabric masks.
During a pandemic we therefore carefully need to consider which face mask we should purchase and be aware of what level of protection that is being provided. As masks are now becoming a part of our lives Individuals may be tempted in purchasing cloth masks which would go with their outfits but the level of protection they offer are very low and it would defeat the purpose of wearing the mask. Filtered face masks such as KN95, FFP2 and surgical masks on the other hand are designed to provide 95% protection, the filters act as barriers in order to protect the user and those around them.