Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist

Here are some tips about choosing a mask.

N95 masks

This one is sold as an N95 mask. It has a wire line at the top, which can go around your nose is particularly useful if you don’t wanna fog up your specs. N95 masks by and large should be left for healthcare workers. But if you’re at risk of serious COVID-19 disease and you want to protect yourself, then an N95 mask is the one to get, but if you’re wearing a mask because the rule is you wanna protect other people ’cause you might have the virus and not know it and wanna protect other people, you don’t need an N95 mask.

Cotton masks

These masks here are available in the market and they are two-layer masks, two-layer cotton masks. And they are, essentially the more layers you’ve got, the more protection you’re giving to others and possibly to yourself as well. And recent research has shown that if you actually wear a two-layer mask it’s pretty good. A three-layer mask is better, where you’ve got dense cotton on the inside, cotton polyester in the middle and a more waterproof material on the outside.

But surgical masks are probably the most effective of all. By the way, going back to the N95, if you can’t create a perfect seal around there, which means, for example, if somebody sprays perfume nearby and you can still smell it, it’s no more effective than just wearing an ordinary surgical mask. They’re pretty good.

The other thing that people suggest you do, particularly if you’ve made the mask yourself, is to put it on, get a candle in front of you and blow through the mask. And if you can blow out the candle, maybe the mask isn’t that effective, but you know, look, if it’s a two-layer mask, you’re in pretty good shape. Three-layer are better. Even a single mask is better than no mask at all.

Face coverings

And a scarf can work, but if it’s a very thin scarf and it gets wet easily, it’s not great, but at least it allows you to conform to the rules, particularly in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire. So, hope that gives you some handy tips.

Last Reviewed: 29/07/2020

myDr

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