Health experts suggest increasing protection against highly infectious Omicron variants with masks that are stronger in terms of droplet protection such as N95 or KN95.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidelines and recommends the type of mask used by healthcare workers, namely N95, but also notes that it is important to choose a mask that fits and will be worn consistently.
“Our main message is that any mask is better than no mask,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement.
N95 masks will fit better on the face than cloth masks. N95 masks are also made with a special material designed to block 95 percent of harmful particles.
A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that the risk of transmitting COVID-19 can be reduced by up to 75 times when a sick person and someone nearby wear an N95 mask.
Additionally a research review published in 2021 found that N95 halved the risk of healthcare workers catching COVID-19, compared to surgical masks.
However, N95 masks also have drawbacks. Its use can be very uncomfortable especially if used for a long time.
In addition, N95 masks are also much more expensive than surgical masks or simple cloth.
“A properly fitted N95 is going to be the highest quality filter mask you can wear, she says. But the best mask you can wear is the one you’re going to wear,” said Emily Sickbert-Bennett, director of infection prevention at UNC Medical Center.
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