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What Types Of Face Mask Should You Be Wearing To Protect Against COVID-19?

What Types Of Face Mask Should You Be Wearing To Protect Against COVID-19?

On the 11th of March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the COVID-19 situation a pandemic[1] in response to the rapidly rising cases worldwide. Locally, cases have been exponentially rising ever since the first official imported case on the 23rd of January.

MOH situation report (9th April 2020)

MOH situation report (9th April 2020)[2]

Since then, there has been a total of 1910 official cases, with 884 individuals hospitalized, 29 of which are still in the intensive care unit (ICU). Similarly, the number of local unlinked cases (cases without travel or contact history) have also been exponentially rising, a phenomenon that Mr Lawrence Wong (Minister for National Development and Second Minister of Finance) have described as “particularly worrying”[3].

 

MOH situation report (9th April 2020)[4]

In response to the rampant community spread of the virus taking place, the Prime Minister’s Office had announced the circuit breaker on the 3rd of April 2020 and highlighted the Government’s adjustment to their advice on face masks[5]. The government will no longer “discourage people from wearing masks” should they wish to protect themselves or others. In addition, the government will be distributing reusable face masks to the community, which however does not provide the same level of protection as surgical masks (see below).

How does COVID-19 spread?

The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets and infects an individual through facial orifices such as eyes, nose or mouth. As such, the virus might spread should an infected individual cough, sneeze or talk in proximity, causing droplets to reach said orifices. Additionally, one might get infected by touching surfaces that contain the virus, and thereafter transferring the virus to their eyes, nose or mouth directly by contact when touching their faces[6].

Furthermore, studies have shown some evidence that the virus can spread in individuals who do not display symptoms or are in the period where the infection has not yet manifested itself  (incubation period)[7].

What types of face masks are available and how effective are they?

(adapted from HSA website[10])

While the reusable cloth masks provided by the government do indeed provide some degree of protection (50 – 60%) against the respiratory droplets which potentially carries the virus, surgical masks provide a confers a much greater degree of protection to the wearer (>95%). N95 respirators do not appear to have any efficacy in protecting oneself from the virus.

 

Sources:

[1] https://time.com/5791661/who-coronavirus-pandemic-declaration/

[2] https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/local-situation-report/situation-report---9-apr-2020.pdf

[3] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/covid-19-rise-in-singapore-locally-transmitted-unlinked-cases-12594642

[4] https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/local-situation-report/situation-report---9-apr-2020.pdf

[5] https://www.pmo.gov.sg/Newsroom/PM-Lee-Hsien-Loong-on-the-COVID19-situation-in-Singapore-on-3-April-2020

[6] https://www.uptodate.com/contents/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=32003551

[8] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/askst-how-effective-is-a-reusable-mask-and-how-do-i-take-care-of-it

[9] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/askst-how-effective-is-a-reusable-mask-and-how-do-i-take-care-of-it

[10] https://www.hsa.gov.sg/consumer-safety/articles/guide-to-masks-and-respirators

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Comments

clkwek - April 19, 2020

Hi, I think you need to do more research on masks. There are different type of N95 AKA respirators. If they are not effective, medical staff who are handling such patients won’t be use it. It is not advise for general public to use respirators as they are harder to breath and long time usage, you may have issues.

Surgical Masks, single use masks are not tight fit thus, there is chance of the virus going around.

As you mentioned, I agree that the masks prevents fluid or droplets spreading in the air by the wearer, But the reverse, respiratory droplets prevention is not high.

Christine KO - April 14, 2020

Hi, may I know it is a surgical mask you are selling?

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