Mask use during COVID-19 pandemic
By Canada Cloud Pharmacy | Published Thursday 03 September 2020
Wearing mask is a necessity for a frontline healthcare workers to protect themselves from contracting the illness. For the average patient, a mask that covers nose and mouth is recommended for controlling the transmission of Covid-19. A large variety of face masks have surfaced in the market during the current COVID-19 outbreak, however, it is essential to know their properties for effective use. The different types of masks are as follows:
Single layer face masks
These are non-medical masks, made up of a single layer of non-woven fabric. They are disposable, meant for single use, and never washed or reused. These masks don’t provide any protection against microorganisms. Being single layer, efficiency of filtration is very less. Single layer cotton cloth with high thread count is better for mask and multiple layers will improve its filtration efficiency.
3-Ply Surgical Mask
Commonly used in the COVID-19 pandemic, the 3-ply surgical mask is made up of 3 different layers. The outermost layer is waterproof, middle layer acts as filter to prevent entry of particles or pathogens, whereas, the innermost layer is absorbent to trap respiratory droplets generated by the user. This layer also absorbs the moisture from exhaled air, thus provides the comfort. Surgical masks are also disposable, and should be disposed safely after a single use.
It forms a tight seal around nose and mouth and protects the user from being exposed to noxious particles, gases and microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi. The filter is made up of electrostatically charged microfibers of polypropylene. Respirator masks are certified as N, R or P depending on their ability to offer resistance to oil-based particles.
• N - Not oil resistant
• R – Somewhat resistant to oil
• P - Strongly oil proof.
‘N’ type respirator masks have 3 varieties namely, N95, N99, and N100 indicating their % efficiency to filter particles of size more than 0.3 µm. N95 respirator masks effectively filter the coronavirus, although smaller in size, provided the mask has a proper seal.
Filtering Face Piece (FFP) is another terminology used. FFP2 and FFP3 are equivalent to N95 and N99, respectively. FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 are also called as P1, P2 and P3.
Respirator mask with valve- An N95 respirator with an exhalation valve provide the same level of protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve. The presence of an exhalation valve reduces exhalation resistance, which makes it easier to breathe or exhale. N95 mask fitted with valve are not suitable for patients suffering with COVID-19 as during exhalation, valve will allow exit of virus in the surrounding air and can potentially infect people around them.