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Which mask offers the best protection from COVID-19, a surgical mask, or a fabric mask?

Medical masks

Medical masks are also known as surgical masks. But it’s designed to protect against large droplets, splashes or sprays of bodily fluid or other type of fluid. Surgical masks are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. According to WHO, they need to be worn by:

  • Health care workers
  • People who have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Those who are taking care of someone suspected or confirmed with COVID-19.

In areas where COVID-19 is widespread, and physical distancing of at least one metre cannot be achieved, medical masks should be worn by:

  • People who are aged 60 years or older
  • Those who have underlying health conditions

Fabric face masks

It is tested and approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that filters 95  % of airborne particles, protecting the wearer from large particles and small aerosol particles. Its effectiveness depends on a tight fit the wear’s familiarity with getting the proper fit to minimize leakage.

These face masks are also known as non-medical masks. They should be worn by:

  • People who have no COVID-19 symptoms
  • Where COVID-19 is widespread
  • Physical distancing of at least one metre cannot be achieved
  • People who are in close contact with others such as social workers, cashiers and servers.
  • Fabric face masks must also be considered in busy settings like when travelling in public transport like buses, shared taxis, and trains, in workplaces, in grocery stores and other crowded environments, mentions the video shared by WHO.

For more information provided by the WHO

Fabric Mask vs Surgical Mask

Guidelines to follow for wearing mask

  • The mask should fit you properly. It should cover your nose, mouth, and chin.
  • The mask should neither be too loose nor too tight. It should be breathable.
  • Avoid touching the outer surface of the mask when outside.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub, before wearing the mask.
  • Discard a single-use medical mask into a closed bin.
  • Wash fabric face mask with warm water and soap after single-time use.
  • A fabric face mask should not wet or dirty. 

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. Miestilo does not claim responsibility for this information.


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