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N95 masks provide ‘best-level of protection’, cloth masks ‘least’: CDC

Experts have said that double or triple-layer masks made of a mix of materials can be more effective, but most cloth coverings are just ‘fashion accessories’ (AP)Premium
Experts have said that double or triple-layer masks made of a mix of materials can be more effective, but most cloth coverings are just ‘fashion accessories’ (AP)

  • The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists said that if both individuals are wearing N95 masks, then the Covid-19 virus will take 25 hours to spread
  • On the other hand, if two people are wearing cloth masks, then the infection will spread in 27 minutes

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency of the US has expressed concerns regarding the popularity of cloth masks over N95 masks as the Covid-19 cases spiral up. However, the CDC has not explicitly explained the difference between a regular cloth mask and protective N95 respirators. And, therefore, the experts have urged CDC to recommend the N95 mask as the highly transmissive Omicron variant of coronavirus has become the dominant strain.

Experts have said that double or triple-layer masks made of a mix of materials can be more effective, but most cloth coverings are just "fashion accessories".

The main issue with a cloth covering is they don’t have to meet any kind of health standard. In contrast, those manufacturing N95 respirator masks, for example, have to make sure they filter out 95% of particles.

The CDC said it wants to encourage Americans to wear masks rather than push them to wear the highest-grade face protection, but also explicitly said that respirators provide the best level of protection. It said that "loosely woven cloth products provide the least protection."

"Masking is a critical public health tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and it is important to remember that any mask is better than no mask," the CDC added.

More Americans have been recently opting for higher-grade protection amid the surge in cases.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists said that with the N95 masks, the Covid virus can be transmitted to other people in at least 2.5 hours if the other person is not wearing the mask. If both individuals are wearing N95 masks, then the virus will take 25 hours to spread.

On the other hand, if two people are wearing cloth masks, then the infection will spread in 27 minutes.

The United States is tallying about 1,800 Covid-19 deaths and 780,000 new infections daily - the most in the world - as well as record levels of hospitalised patients.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the federal government plans to make "high-quality masks" available to Americans for free.

The CDC has said N95 masks may be considered for use in places like transit "when greater protection is needed or desired."

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