WHAT TYPE OF FACE MASK SHOULD I WEAR?
With the latest pandemic hitting us all around the globe known as SARS-CoV-2 aka Covid-19 it has been known to us that most transmissions happen in the early stages of contaging the virus even before the symptoms start to show.
Masks have been proven by researchers that it helps in limiting the transmission of virus by blocking vapours and droplets from being spread around in the air which can be caused by coughing, sneezing and even regular breaths.
To know which type of mask you should be using, it is best you understand how each type of mask work and how the virus is transmitted.
Types of face masks
There are various types of masks available right now, given the situation of the pandemic, manufacturers have been producing traditional surgical masks and many other kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) for various uses based on the needs of the users such as doctors, nurses and patients who are at the frontline of this pandemic and even for the general public for daily usage.
Surgical masks are often in blue and sometimes pink. They fit loosely across your nose and mouth with fluid resistence which helps in shielding against large droplets from another person’s cough/sneeze with filtration efficiency for bacterial filtration of about 95%.
Not to the knowledge of the general public there are actually two types of N95 masks, Standard N95 and Surgical N95. Both types are tight fit and have Minimum 95%* against particulate aerosols (of 0.3 micron in size) free of oil. The main difference between the standard and surgical N95 is the resistance to fluid and droplets, hence the purpose of these two masks differ.
- Standard N95 masks reduce the user’s exposure to very small airborne particles or contaminants, however it may not protect the user against sprays and direct liquid splashes. Note that it is also not cleared by the US FDA as a surgical mask for surgical purposes.
- Surgical N95 masks on the other hand provides the protection of both a surgical mask and standard N95 masks. It is to be used as a physical barrier from large droplets of blood or body fluids as well as very small particles (e.g. fine aerosolised droplets), commonly produced by coughing or sneezing.
Face mask (cloth or paper masks)
Face masks that are made of any generic cloth are less effective at protecting the wearer as smaller particles and droplets are still able to penetrate the mask. However it is not right to discard the effectiveness of such masks as there is still protection from large droplets which can carry bacteria and viruses.
How is Covid-19 Transmitted
It is important to know how the virus covid-19 transmitted. Data from a published epidemiology and virologic studies provide evidence that the virus is transmitted to others who are in close contact through these methods:
- Respiratory droplets
- Direct contact with infected persons
- Contact with contaminated objects and surfaces.
It is important to note that transmission of these 3 ways can happen not only from infected patients but also Pre-symptomatic (infected but yet to develop symptoms during incubation period) and Asymptomatic (infected but DO NOT develop symptoms)
Quick Covid-19 Common Myths True & False
A person can transmit Covid-19 without showing symptoms Ans: TRUE
Pre-Symptomatic: A person can be carrying the virus for up to 14 and even in some recorded cases 24days before showing symptoms
Asymptomatic: A person can be carrying the virus but not show any symptoms at all, but is capable of transmitting the virus to another individual.
Ordering or buying products shipped from overseas will make a person sick. Ans: FALSE
As of this writing, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the likelihood of becoming infected with COVID-19 from a commercial package is low since it has likely traveled over several days and been exposed to different temperatures and conditions during transit.
Airborne Transmission of Covid-19 Ans: NEITHER TRUE/FALSE
Evidence has yet to support airborne transmission, but you should not rule out the possibility especially in places with infected patients such as hospitals and quarantine zones. Hence take extra precaution in these areas.
I can reuse my mask if it is clean Ans: FALSE
Only cloth masks can be reused only when it has been washed, surgical masks and N95 masks are meant for one time use only for optimal condition and protection for its purpose.
Cloth masks are pointless and ineffective in preventing Covid-19 spread. Ans: FALSE
Although it is less effective then surgical and N95 masks, cloth masks still blocks off large droplets of fluids from coughs and sneezes. It also helps in keeping you concious of the behavior of not touching your face.
Soap is good enough to wash your hands. Ans: True
It is true that a generic soap will help in killing bacteria and viruses on your hands. It takes around 20seconds to breakdown the protective lipid aka fat around the virus. Just like how washing an oily plate with only water would not help, but with added soap the plate will be clean off grease and oil.
The best option would be to get hold of N95 surgical mask or the standard issue surgical mask as they are resistant to direct fluids and small particles. However due to the global pandemic, getting your hands on such masks may be difficult and it is best to have them reserved for the medical staff who are in direct contact with confirmed infected patients.
For the general public in the context of the situation in Singapore, where community transmission is at its lowest at the moment a simple cloth face mask is the least you can wear to protect yourself from droplet transmissions found in coughs and sneezes.
In short you should use these masks in these certain situations
Daily lives – use cloth masks
When sick and visiting risk areas – surgical/N95masks
If you deem our information incorrect/false please feel free to drop us an email with details to so we can make neccessary adjustments. We are sharing information with good intent and we are open for comments on how we can better provide and share accurate information with one another.