Face masks have been proven to prevent coronavirus transmission and save lives.

A preliminary analysis of the spread of COVID-19 in 194 countries found that the coronavirus deaths increased by 55 percent per week without masks, compared to just 7 percent where mask wearing was enforced.

The study also found that infectious droplets travelled up to 4.9 metres when a person wasn’t wearing a mask, compared with just 1.5 metres when particles leaked out the sides of a face mask.

But not all masks give equal levels of protection.

For a mask to be truly effective against the spread of COVID-19, it should block large respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes as well as smaller airborne particles, called aerosols, produced when people speak or exhale normally.

 

The N95 mask was one of the winners, with a 95 percent efficiency at filtering aerosols

 A study evaluating more than 10 masks, based on their ability to filter airborne coronavirus particles was published in the Journal of Hospital Infection last month with the following findings:

  • N99 masks reduced a person’s risk of infection by 94 to 99 percent after 20 minutes of exposure in a highly contaminated environment.
  • N95 masks were on a par with them, offering 95 percent efficiency at filtering aerosols.
  • Disposable surgical masks were the next best option for people who don’t have access to an N99 or N95 mask.
  • “Hybrid” masks – combining two layers of 600-thread-count cotton with silk, chiffon, or flannel; filtered more than 80 percent of small particles, with a cotton/chiffon combination offering the most protection, followed by cotton/flannel, cotton/silk, and four layers of natural silk.
  • DIY masks made from vacuum-cleaner bags were found to be almost as efficient as surgical masks.
  • Tightly woven tea towels and antimicrobial pillowcases were next, offering poor protection, but still better than a single layer of cotton.
  • Scarves and cotton T-shirts came last, reducing the risk of by about 44 percent after 30 seconds of exposure to the coronavirus. After 20 minutes in a highly contaminated environment, that risk reduction dropped to just 24 percent. But that’s still better than zero.

Also important to note is that the protectiveness of a mask – including N95 masks, declines considerably when there is a gap between the mask and the skin. You must take a moment to mould the mask to your face to ensure it is providing adequate protection.

The World Health Organisation, who initially came out against masks, now recommends medical masks for healthcare workers, elderly people, people with underlying health conditions, and people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or show symptoms. In Victoria, masks are now mandatory for everybody and NSW could introduce similar legislation in the near future.

Agencies were initially restricting N99 and N95 masks for healthcare workers because they were so effective. They seal tightly around the nose and mouth so that very few viral particles can seep in or out. They also contain tangled fibres to filter airborne pathogens. Since Honeywell has dramatically increased production of these masks in the last couple of months, they are now becoming available for workers in other fields.

Click here for more information on Honeywell N95 masks or call (02) 4960 9611 to order your masks now.