Should I wear a mask to protect against Coronavirus/COVID-19
If I do, how do I wear one?
Here at NSE Imports, we do not offer medical advice or make claims about how effective a mask is against you catching Coronavirus. We fully endorse the UK governments advice of social distancing and good hygiene practices. However, there are growing arguments that the wearing of masks can help prevent spreading by blocking your exhalations, there is also the idea of 'group protection' based around the idea that with mass mask wearing, each person contributes to preventing the spread, this is similar to most South East Asian countries advice, especially in their densely populated areas. This short video shows the difference wearing a mask can make.
As of the 23rd of April 2020 the UK government is about to issue advice that wearing a scarf or DIY mask or face covering is ample protection, this is similar to the U.S. advice recently issued, while these may offer some protection, a N95 or FFP2 mask will offer both higher protect and be far easier to breath through. Around the beginning of May 2020 the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated he feels that masks will play an important part of easing the lockdown measures.
Personally I wear a mask at present when I venture out, even with social distancing it's easy enough in a shop or on public transport to end up a bit to close to another person, have I got it? Have they got it?, Who knows? If we are to survive both personally and economically until a vaccine is found we will need to move about more, however we also need to protect ourselves and those around us to prevent a second wave, looking at the scientific evidence of how far a cough of sneeze will travel, I believe mass mask wearing will help prevent the spread.
There are lots of different ratings for masks, this infographic helps quickly show how KN95 masks are rated against N95 and FFP2.
We have gathered some information from various sources here to help you reach your own conclusions, along with some wearing and handling advice.
Stay safe out there, NSE Imports.
Advice from various bodies:
Respiratory Emissions: Potential for Reducing Transmission of COVID-19
This is an excellent paper by Lydia Bourouiba, PhD about how far a cough or sneeze will travel. I recommend the video you can find in the Multimedia link.
Another good paper can be found here: Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review
- What makes N95 respirators different from surgical masks?
- READ: Understanding the difference between masks.pdf
- N95 respirators reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including large and small particles.
- Not everyone is able to wear a respirator due to medical conditions that may be made worse when breathing through a respirator. Before using a respirator or getting fit-tested, workers must have a medical evaluation to make sure that they are able to wear a respirator safely.
- Achieving an adequate seal to the face is essential. United States regulations require that workers undergo an annual fit test and conduct a user seal check each time the respirator is used. Workers must pass a fit test to confirm a proper seal before using a respirator in the workplace.
- When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around edges of the respirator when the user inhales. This means almost all of the air is directed through the filter media.
- Unlike NIOSH-approved N95s, facemasks are loose-fitting and provide only barrier protection against droplets, including large respiratory particles. No fit testing or seal check is necessary with facemasks. Most facemasks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.
- The role of facemasks is for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes. Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home. The patient does not need to wear a facemask while isolated.
Extract from the above link:
- The UK recommends the use of FFP3 respirators when caring for patients in areas where high risk aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are being performed.
- When FFP3 respirators are not available, then FFP2 respirators may be used. The World Health Organisation(WHO) recommends FFP2 and N95 respirators for AGPs and these are widely used in other countries.
- The N95 respirator is not CE marked but has been tested against standards similar to European standards. There is no material difference between the N95 respirator and the FFP2 disposable respirator.
- They provide comparable protection against coronavirus as long as the wearer has passed a face fit test.
The World Health Oraganisation (WHO) has a wealth of information and info graphics regarding the use and wearing of masks. There is far too much advice to simply copy here, please follow the links to read more.
Mask usage videos:
Below are some handy videos about how to safely wear and remove your masks, these have been issued mainly for healthcare settings but the same procedures make sense for personal use.