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Experts Say It’s Time to Upgrade Your Masks: Which Face Coverings are the Most Effective Against the Omicron Variant?

face masks animation
Experts Say It's Time to Upgrade Your Masks: Which Face Coverings are the Most Effective Against the Omicron Variant? (PHOTO: Atrium Health)

Studies have shown that the Omicron variant can spread much faster than previous variants of COVID-19, so health agencies are encouraging people to practice health protocols, such as physical distancing and wearing face masks. But now, they are more concerned with the quality of face masks, increasing the demand for N95 and KN95 masks.


N95 masks production

A production line for the manufacture of masks at a factory in Shanghai, China. (PHOTO: Aly Song/Reuters)


Updated Guidelines in Isolation Period

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced an update on the number of days some people infected with COVID-19 need to isolate or go into quarantine. The updated guidelines said that those who are exposed to the novel coronavirus or who contracted COVID-19 should isolate for five days instead of the previously recommended 10 days.

The Philadelphia Inquirer said that this new guideline was released after experts found that transmission of the Omicron variant occurs during the early course of illness. More so, it comes after people have come home from holiday gatherings with friends and family and as schools prepare to reopen amidst a surge in new cases.

Experts hope to curb transmission while also minimizing the disruption in the daily activities of people. But in return, people are urged to wear masks in public settings and closed spaces.

ALSO READ: How To Stay Safe From Omicron Variant This Holiday Season As COVID-19 Cases Surge

Experts Recommend N95 Masks, 3-Ply Face Masks Against the Omicron Variant

The CDC recommends wearing N95 respirators, which can filter up to 95% of air droplets and particles, and 3-ply surgical masks to prevent contracting COVID-19 from infected droplets in the air, Health Site reported. They said that these are better than cloth masks as they might not be able to protect against the more transmissible Omicron variant.

Additionally, experts noted that people these days need better masks for protection against new variants whether it may be the alpha, Beta, Delta, or the Omicron variants.

Newsday reported that KN95 and N95 masks are proven to do a better job at filtering viral particles that is why they are commonly used by health care workers. However, the CDC warns the public that 60% of KN95 masks sold in the US are counterfeit and did not undergo the proper process of approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

RELATED ARTICLE: CDC Reduces Quarantine Period For Healthcare Workers As The U.S. Braces From The Heavily Contagious Omicron Variant