As the Omicron variant is on the steady rise, masks are one of the best ways that protect ourselves and others against the COVID-19 virus. In the market, there are various options available. In recent times, doctors and healthcare experts have suggested wearing a mask that protects you well from the particles, even with the tiny droplets.
However, with time, people are revisiting the discussion around the most effective masks to curtail the spread of the Omicron virus, which is highly contagious than the Delta variant. With the onset of the new omicron variant, a lot of discussions have happened around which is the effective mask against the virus.
As per the efficiency of the masks, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends N95 masks, as they provide high filtration with 95% efficiency or more against the particulate aerosols. Though it can filter minute particles, properly scrutinize the masks before purchase. Do not opt for masks with vents or valves as they do not filter the exhaled air. As recommended by health experts, N95 masks can be reused by general people (not healthcare) and should be kept in a closed paper bag after wearing it to prevent contamination.
Out of the varieties available, cloth masks are considered the least effective in protecting against the virus. It comes with a pore size of 80-500 micrometres, which is much larger as compared to the 0.12 micrometre coronavirus. While some people still opt for cloth masks, experts suggest that they are not quite effective against filtering particles. Hence, in terms of better protection, surgical masks rank higher than cloth masks. The triple-layered mask works better in keeping the virus at bay. The major challenge in surgical masks is the fitting. The mask comes in a universal size, and in many people they are not well fitted properly, which increases the risks of small particles seeping in through the gaps.
As per the advice from healthcare experts and physicians, it is advised to choose N95 masks that help keep the variant at bay when compared to cloth and other masks. However, it must be noted that Surgical masks are still a better choice with regards to cloth masks. But if your masks are not maintained properly then the entire benefit of the masks goes for a toss. Most of the time people are not aware of the limitations. Surgical masks are one-time use masks, and it is foremost important to discard them after 8 hours of use; in case the mask becomes wet or soiled before 8 hours then it must be disposed of immediately. Similarly, the cloth masks must be washed properly using disinfectants.
In addition to the selection of masks, it is pertinent to follow WHO guidelines to use the masks for avoiding any chances of contracting the disease. While wearing the mask the nose must be covered properly. It should go over the bridge of the nose and cover the chin to avoid any escape or entry of contaminated air. Before wearing a mask make sure to clean hands with alcohol-based sanitisers or wash hands with soap and water. And while removing the mask, never touch it from the front, always remove it from behind. Discard it off immediately into the bin and clean hands with sanitizers or soap and water. Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth without cleaning your hands.
Though omicron cases are surging unchecked, incorporating certain hygienic practices into lives and using the mask with proper care can substantially help in keeping the virus at bay.