Because COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, facial masks are in great demand – but are they effective?

COVID-19 is arguably a preventable disease, and this pandemic facilitates a large surge in demand for medical face masks from the general public and medical professionals.

Can mask ‘leveling the curve’?

With efforts to ‘flatten the curves’ that grow throughout the world, there has been debate about the efficacy of wearing face masks.

Although two meters apart when leaving your home on important trips is a must, such as washing your hands when returning, the benefits of the mask are visible.

If wearing a mask prevents a high percentage of entering your respiratory system, the benefits are obvious. While medical face masks does not guarantee 100% protection for the wearer, they still greatly reduce the chance of infection, and when working to level the curve, any reduction in transmission rates is allowed.

Facial mask, surgical mask, or breathing mask?

Apart from the safety suggestion to stay two meters apart, coughing and sneezing can project virus particles six meters away.

Coughing and sneezing produce a “muzzle velocity” of 50 meters/second (for sneezing) or 10 m/s (for coughing), making the protection zone two meters of small help without additional obstructions in the form of masks.

However, unlike simple face masks or surgical masks, breathing masks protect against runny and oily aerosols, smoke, and fine dust. Its protective function is verified by EN 149 standards throughout Europe and divided into an FFP2 face mask and FFP3 mask, this standard verifies protection from avian influenza, SRAS, tuberculosis, as well as respiratory pathogenic infections and bacteria.

The two classifications also indicate the number of particles filtered by the mask, FFP2 filters 94%, and FFP3 filters 99%. The more particles that need to be filtered, the greater the number of layers of filter material. As a result, masks in higher protection classes are thicker, which means higher respiratory resistance.

Particle filtering face masks protect against particles, but not gas or steam.

Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about various types of protective masks, and which is the best. While surgical masks protect against infectious agents transmitted by droplets, they do not protect against airborne infectious agents such as viruses, so they will not prevent the wearer from being infected by COVID-19.

In conclusion, facial masks consist of 3 types. Homemade and surgical masks for general use but do not guarantee 100% protection. However, health authorities recommend using it while continuing to maintain adequate social distance and cleanliness.

The N95 respirator is more effective and is not intended for general use. The N95 respirator has several alternatives: N95, KN95, and FFP2. They have the same filtering efficiency but are tested with different national criteria.

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