In order to protect yourself and others from getting contaminated with the coronavirus, wearing face masks has been recommended since the beginning of the pandemic. It has been an integral step in limiting the spread of the virus and its various mutations.
But now that an even more contagious variant has emerged, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be updating their guidance on face masks.
Best face mask for Omicron
The Washington Post reported that the health authority may soon be issuing a new recommendation to the public regarding the type of mask they should wear to fight off the Omicron variant.
Their current guidelines suggest wearing any kind of covering that has ‘two or more layers of breathable fabric.’ That includes cloth masks and disposable surgical masks. However, they might start encouraging the public to opt for N95 or KN95 masks which are known to offer a higher level of protection but were previously in short supply.
An unnamed official from the organisation said:
The agency is currently actively looking to update its recommendations for KN95 and N95 in light of omicron.
We know these masks provide better filtration.
N95 and KN95 masks
These masks are being prioritised as they are tight-fitting and have a higher filtration capacity compared to disposable surgical masks and cloth masks.
The two masks have often been mistaken for one another, but you should know that they are not the same. The N95 masks have been found to havea high filtration rate of 95%, meaning that they have the ability to filter out ‘all types of particles, including bacteria and viruses,’ according to CDC.
N95 masks are approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), whereas KN95 masks, which boasts the same efficiency level, are created and moderated in China. They have previously been found to be less effective than N95 masks, making them less suitable for use in critical healthcare settings. However, they still provide a high level of respiratory protection for daily use.