Once again, the onset of a new variant of Covid 19, namely- Omicron, has highlighted the importance of vaccination and masks. While vaccinations do help considerably in preventing severity of Covid-19 variants, resulting in low levels of hospitalizations and deaths, the face masks play a prominent role in providing the entry level defense against the variant. Experts from around the world have highlighted the role of masks even against the Omicron variant, and there is a good chance that these will continue to play a big role even against the future variants.
The Omicron is a big concern due to its transmissibility which gives it the capability to infect many people in short span of time. Vaccinated people get only mild symptoms of this infection, which gets resolved within a matter of days, but the unvaccinated ones are at real danger of attaining severity of this variant. It is a fact that, as compared to the Delta variant, this has proved to be less lethal so far. Vaccination has made a big difference even as it is believed that this variant has the ability to escape vaccination induced immunity by and large.
This belief brings back the role of masks as a key factor against its prevention in the first place. The experts have opined that a normal mask, such a cloth mask or a 3 ply surgical mask might not be able to prevent this infection. So, a high grade N95 mask is the best option recommended by these experts. The N95 masks, as name suggest, is able to filter out about 95% of microbes and viruses. These are generally made in 5 layers of protective material which includes multiple layers of spun-bound and melt-blown fabrics of different levels of weight.
The use of these certified n95 masks is considered to be highly effective against Omicron than using two cloth masks or one cloth and one surgical disposable mask. So, even double masking will be largely useless.
Therefore, in terms of relative effectiveness of the masks, it can be said that surgical masks are better than cloth masks and the N95 are even better than surgical ones.
Fit Matters A Lot
A snuggly fitting mask is required for protection against Covid-19 and its variants. There shall be no space left for air to enter through side of cheeks or nose. Even the best of face masks will not be able to prevent the infection if these are not worn properly.
Do not touch again and again
It is required that a fresh mask be worn with hands after washing with soap or sanitizing with sanitizer. Once worn, it shall not be touched by hands time and again. If at all it is to be touched, the hands shall be washed or sanitized without fail.
Do not wash masks, just dispose off
N95 masks, if washed, loose effectiveness since the fabric with which it is made gets punctured with washing, making holes which are not able to prevent infection. Therefore, it is required that these masks are not washed. Rather, you shall dispose these off.
Say No To Valved N95 Masks
It is also pertinent to note that the n95 masks shall not be having any valve. The valve is provided to give ease of breathing but this also give pathway for virus to enter the respiratory system. Therefore, it is not suggested to buy N95 masks with valve.
Which One to Buy- N95 With Head loops or Ear loops?
Masks with headloops are comfortable to wear for long hours as these do not strain the muscles of back of ear which the earloop ones do. Also, the fitting of the headloop one is better as the band goes around the head which makes for a tighter and better fit. Therefore, the ones with head loops are preferable for long term wearing.