From washable cloth face-masks to medical-grade respirators, consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to face coverings. Retailers are also cashing in on the demand, turning protective face coverings into the latest fashion accessories.
Increasingly though, governments are issuing stricter guidance on which face-masks people should be wearing for everyday activities. French and German health officials have advised people to wear surgical face-masks rather than cloth face coverings. While in Bavaria and Austria, it is now compulsory to wear a medical-grade FFP2 mask (standing for filtering face-piece) on public transport and in shops. Whichever mask you choose, it will be more effective in protecting you from COVID-19 when combined with other measures.
To stay safe, it is also important to keep your distance from other people, avoid crowds, keep rooms well-ventilated. Regularly clean your hands and cough into a bent elbow or tissue. Cloth masks: These usually consist of several layers of fabric, and attach to the face using ear loops or head ties. They are primarily designed to minimise the transmission of virus particles contained within larger respiratory droplets produced when we speak. As well as coughing or sneezing. But, provide little protection for the wearer themselves. This makes physical distancing and ventilation particularly important when wearing one.
Fabric masks should ideally have three layers, including a middle layer, which can be a disposable filter. The inner layer should be made from a fabric that easily absorbs moisture from the breath, like cotton. The middle layer should ideally be made from “spun bound” polypropylene – a man-made material with a random arrangement of fibres, like spaghetti on a plate. While, the outermost layer should be made from a fabric that repels droplets and moisture, e.g., polyester, or a polyester and cotton blend. Also, since fabric masks are primarily designed to protect other people, steer clear of other people wearing a flimsy-looking mask or no mask at all.