As the lockdown eases and some sense of normality begins to return, more and more of us are spending time outdoors and returning to work. However, in order to do these things safely, the government has advised several practices we can each adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus, one of which is encouraging the use of face masks.
The official government advice states that, if possible, everyone should wear a face mask when they’re in an enclosed public space where they’ll come into contact with people they don’t normally meet and may struggle to socially distance themselves from them.
For example, if you are using public transport to get to work, entering a shop or working in someone’s home, these would be instances where it would be advisable to cover your face.
This is not compulsory but wearing a face covering could protect those around you. After all, the WHO suggest COVID-19 particles are transmitted through respiratory droplets and contact. Respiratory droplets are transmitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can travel around 1 metre.
In line with government advice, the World Health Organisation encourages the use of face masks if you are a healthy person caring for someone with coronavirus, or if you are showing symptoms. However, if you are showing symptoms, it is vitally important that you stay at home and self-isolate.
Which face mask should I use?
Type II and Type IIR masks protect you against 98% of large particles (3 microns in size) and are fitted to your face using ear loops. These masks are single use only.
For a greater level of protection, the FFP2/kn95 Mask is recommended. This is suitable for busy enclosed spaces such as public transport.
These individually wrapped, single-use masks meet PPE standards and are fitted to your face using ear loops, and work by filtering out 94% of smaller particles (0.3 microns in size). Their multiple layers offer greater protection, have little impact on breathing ability and are recommended by the WHO. You can sometimes find them fitted with valves, too.
The KN95 Mask filters 95% of smaller particles (0.3 microns in size) from entering the body through your nose and mouth. These masks have a sealed fit around the nose, mouth and chin. The KN95 masks are recommended if a high level of protection is required; this could be in medical centres or busy enclosed spaces.