Coronavirus : Are Masks effective?



The debate is on


Is a face mask effective against Coronavirus?


The official view from the Government is that Masks are not necessary if you are well. Instead, wash your hands regularly with soap and water. However, if you have a fever, cough or runny nose or recovering from an illness, it is best to wear a mask. 



Regardless of the official stance, face masks are now flying off the shelves. This is evident by the long queues at stores that stock them. 

Out of Stock
However, not all face mask are suitable for the task of blocking out Virus. If you plan on getting a mask, at the very least, get the right one. 

For the record, we would touch our own face 2 to 3 thousand times a day. As a result, it may affect the effectiveness of most masks.

USEFUL MASKS

These are the masks that would be of use to combat the virus.

Surgical Mask


Pros

  • Able to capture respiratory droplets from user. Good for those who are unwell
  • Helps to prevent hands to mouth transmission
  • Affordable


Cons

  • Does not capture airborne virus if loosely fitted
  • The virus can also transmit via eyes through touch.
  • The virus may transmit if used incorrectly. Eg, removal of the mask through the patch area instead of the ear loops and subsequently touching the face
  • One Time use only

In a nutshell, Surgical masks are good to prevent particles from COMING OUT of the wearer in contact with others. It is not 100% foolproof against Virus. If you are having close contact with different people every day, it is best to wear a surgical mask.


A proper surgical facemask would come in at least 3 ply. To be effective, it has to be BFE (Bacteria Filtration Efficiency) and PFE(Particle Filtration Efficiency) rated. BFE rating would filter particle size of 3 Microns while PFE rating will filter 0.1 Microns. Virus are usually average 0.1 Microns.


N95 Mask






Pros

  • Filter at least 95% of particles size 0.3 microns and below
  • Recognised as a respiratory mask
  • There are also Korean Filter rated ones. KF94 and KF 99 are recommended.


Cons

  • Harder to breathe in one
  • Might be uncomfortable to use for longer period
  • More costly than a surgical mask
  • PM 2.5 rated mask only block 2.5 microns, NOT effective for virus. You need to find one that is BFE + PFE rated as well.


95 Mask are a tight git and used to PROTECT the wearer from harmful particles. Best used if you are a medical staff or a frontline facing many customers in a day.

Full Face Mask


For full protection. This would be the mask to use. It's a not of overkill but it works.


USELESS MASKS

Avoid these masks if possible

Paper Mask or cosmetic mask


No use in this situation as it does not filter the virus. Mostly use for beauty parlour. Usually comes in 1 ply. There are some retailers marketing this as Surgical Mask. The difference is that it may only come in 1 or 2 ply and not as effective as a surgical mask.

Do note that they look like a surgical mask, so make sure you get the right ones.

Cloth Mask


This absorbs virus instead of repel. Good for smog, bad for virus

Pitta Mask


Use as a mask to filter pollen and dust. Not effective in this situation.
Looks nice, but not effective


Essential Reading

Click here for our daily update on Wuhan Virus





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