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Is It Time to Switch to N95 Mask to Avoid the Omicron Variant? Here’s What Experts Have to Say

changing to N95 mask
Is It Time to Switch to N95 Mask to Avoid the Omicron Variant? Here's What Experts Have to Say (PHOTO: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

A debate has arisen after the scientific community notified the world of a new SRAS-CoV-2 virus strain whether travel bans are effective to control the spread of the Omicron variant. However, experts said that nothing has changed since the previous variants that vaccines, masks, and physical distancing are still the most effective ways to defend oneself from the virus.

On the other hand, some are also asking whether it is already time to switch from ordinary face masks to wear an N95 mask, which can better filter particles and avoid the virus. What do experts say about it?

 

Masks explainer

Not all masks are created equal. The image shows how each type of face mask filters particles and how effective they are at preventing viral transmission. (PHOTO: Sonja Pinsker/The Scientist Magazine)

 

Should You Switch to Wearing an N95 Mask?

The Omicron variant has been labeled by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “variant of concern” because it has several mutations that may affect its behavior and its transmissibility or severity of illness it can cause. WHO is currently coordinating with a large number of experts around the world to study and better understand this new variant.

Experts remind the public to still practice the basic health protocols to avoid getting infected. A recent review of public health measures showed that mask-wearing has been effective in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. But when it comes to which mask should be worn, people are still confused as masks are not created equal.

According to Deccan Herald, medical professionals said that a three-ply mask and an N95 mask would be ideal but a cloth mask should also have a surgical mask. Doctors explained that a disposable mask can only be worn for about eight hours, while an N95 mask can be worn for 24 hours.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 Pandemic Could Take Up 5 More Years Before It Is Effectively Contained, Experts Say

Types of Face Masks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that surgical/medical masks are designed to contain respiratory droplets and particles, and provide protection from particles expelled by other people. Meanwhile, N95 respirators also prevent droplets and particles from the person to spread to other people.

Fabric masks can also provide a little protection against the virus but some particles may leak through. As of now, CDC continues to learn more about the effectiveness of the different types of masks and respirators against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its strain.

RELATED ARTICLE: US Government Revives Contact Tracing Amid Growing Cases Of Omicron COVID-19 Variant