Which face masks provide the best protection and what is Nphet advising?

The state’s National Public Health Emergency Team has sent new advice to the government on face masks and which varieties better protect people against COVID-19.

The recommendations have not extended to other countries where people are advised to wear high-grade respiratory masks in public places.

What kind of masks are people wearing?

Face masks are broadly divided into three groups: the cloth face masks that most people wear in shops and public transport; Slightly better medical grade masks that are mostly blue in color, and even more protective high grade respirator masks that can look like a duck’s bill.

Which are the best masks?

The FFP3 Respirator Face Mask and the slightly lower grade FFP2 (FFP stands for Filter Face Piece, by the way) provide the highest level of protection.

They reduce exposure to airborne particles.

These masks should be worn tightly to the face and reduce the wearer’s exposure to small particulate aerosols, filtering at least 95 percent of these airborne particles. The US equivalents of the FF2 and FFP3 masks are the N95 and N99, respectively.

Why are medical grade masks not as effective?

Medical masks do not protect against small airborne particles. They are often loose fitting, allowing leakage around the edges when the user inhales.

For this reason the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not consider medical masks to be respiratory protection.

How effective are basic cloth masks?

Fabric masks or face coverings such as the homemade varieties will not protect you, but may protect others if you are infected. They are not classified as official personal protective equipment.