Cloth Masks May Not Protect Against Omicron

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According to a Wall Street Journal report, single-layer cloth masks might not be sufficient protection against COVID-19’s very infectious omicron form.

Many infectious disease experts pointed out that cloth masks are preferred by people because they are more fashionable and comfortable. However, these masks cannot block smaller droplets of COVID-19. They also can’t block particles or aerosols that may carry the virus.

According to the report, Mayo Clinic now requires all patients and visitors to use surgical masks N95 or KN95. If anyone is wearing a single-layer, handmade cloth mask or bandanna, they’ll be provided with a medical-grade mask to cover it.

The COVID-19 virus is blocked by surgical masks. N95 masks, on the other hand, have a tighter mesh than surgical masks or cloth masks. They also have electrostatic charge characteristics.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends N95 masks to only health care workers. Instead, they suggest cloth masks with two or more layers of fabric that cover the face and fit snugly against the sides of your face without any gaps. They also have a nose wire to stop air from leaking from the top of their masks.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases specialist at the University of California San Francisco, stated that “if everyone is just wearing cloth masks or surgical masks, it won’t matter” against the omicron variety.

Gandhi recommends N95, F95, KF94, and FFP2 masks. However, if these masks are not available, Gandhi suggests double masking with a multilayered, cloth mask over the surgical mask. Experts say that surgical masks might offer protection against the contagious Omicron variant.

“Any mask is better than no mask.” However, cloth masks and surgical masks don’t perform as well as N95-caliber masks,” Dr. Ranu Dhillon of Brigham and Women’s Hospital said.