Maybe it’s time to upgrade the mask

The CDC is set to update its advice on the mask to best reflect the options available and the different levels of protection they provide, a CNC official told CNN. (Ina Fassbender, AFP, Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON – If you’re still wearing a cloth or surgical mask while you’re out, it’s time to reconsider covering your face.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to update its mask advice this week to best reflect the options available and the different levels of protection they provide, a CDC official told CNN on Tuesday.

Many experts claim that cloth and surgical masks do not provide sufficient protection and instead support N95 or FFP2 coverage.

Improved masks are already standard in much of Europe. Germany orders FFP2 coatings in shops, public transport and other public places. Neighboring Austria has made FFP2 blinds mandatory on Tuesdays, when it is not possible to stay at least two meters away from people outside the household, and inside has been mandatory since last month.

Italy has ordered heavy masks to enter stadiums, museums, cinemas and theaters and use public transport from December. And in Greece, anyone who has left self-isolation must wear them for five days in any public place.

Different terminology for masks can be confusing, but all terms refer to the level of filtration that the cover offers – and there is no doubt that the FFP2, N95 or KN95 models offer better protection than models made of fabric or other fabrics.

Cloth masks – previously supported during a pandemic – can stop large droplets, while more effective masks can also filter smaller aerosols or particles potentially loaded with airborne virus.

Properly installed N95 respirators, which are approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, can filter up to 95% of airborne particles, according to the CDC.

In contrast, the fabric of the face also has 75% leakage in and out, which the American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists defines as “the percentage of particles entering the face mask” and “the percentage of particles exhaled by the source leaving the face mask.” “Resp.

People who are interested in the best way to protect themselves and their loved ones during this increase in omicron variants should “get a mask of the highest quality that you can wear and that is available to you,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Anderson Cooper on Tuesday, signaling a change in the official council.

The problem so far is that filter masks are generally more expensive, slightly less comfortable to wear, and were not always commonly available during a pandemic.

This explains why the CDC has so far actively encouraged members of the public to buy N95 masks – it now states on its website that they should be “preferred for medical staff”.

But Fauci told CNN that “right now (there) there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of masks that weren’t available some time ago.”

“What the CDC has said – and this is misinterpreted – is that wearing any mask is better than none,” Fauci said. “But there is a certain gradation of ability to prevent you from becoming infected and passing it on to someone else. So we should wear the best possible masks we can get. That’s a fact.”

Contributing: Nina Avramova

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