Healthcare professionals say now may be the right time to upgrade your face masks, according to the Wallstreet Journal.
As infections surge due to the highly contagious Omicron variant, even if you're vaccinated, medical experts are now urging the public to abandon cloth face masks, which they say may not provide adequate protection against COVID19. They are instead recommending people to move to stronger respirator masks, like an N95.
While cloth face masks may be more comfortable and can block larger droplets carrying the Cornonavrius, they aren't as effective in blocking smaller particles carrying the virus, according to infectious-disease specialists.
"If you really want no exposure, you have to wear the right type of mask", says Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Gandhi recommends N95 masks, which are certified in the United States, or the KN95, KF94 and FFP2 masks, which are certified in China, South Korea and Europe respectively.
Dr. Gandhi noted that "if everyone is just wearing a cloth mask or just surgical mask, it won't make any difference" with this highly-transmissible variant, she says.
N95 masks, which are certified by the U.S. agency National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, have more technology in the fibers than surgical or cloth masks. The tighter fit, generally makes these masks more efficient at trapping larger droplets and aerosols that are exhaled by the wearer. They also block from inhaling such particles.
Properly fitted, certified N95 masks can filter up to 95% of aerosols or particles in the air, providing the wearer with the greatest protection.