Does it matter what kind of mask we are wearing?

Yes it does. Different kinds of masks can offer you different levels of protection. The surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection, followed by surgical grade masks. However, these masks are very costly, in limited supply, contribute to landfill waste and are not comfortable to wear them for a long period of time. So even countries that have required the public to wear face masks have generally suggested such masks should be reserved for health workers or those at particularly high risk.

Are the paper surgical masks for one use better or is a cloth mask OK?

The evidence on any mask use, outside of surgical masks, is still emerging: there appears to be some benefit, but there are not exact parameters of which masks are the best and the extent to which they protect the wearer or those around them are still being figured out. A tighter fitting around the face is probably better, but the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests any covering, including a bandana, is better than none.

How do you take the mask on and off safely?

Before putting a mask on your face, you should clean your hands well with soap and water. Cover your mouth and nose with your mask and make sure there are no gaps between the face and the mask. Try to avoid touching the mask while using it and, if you do, wash your hands. Replace the mask when it is damp. To remove your mask safely, take it off using the elastic tags, without touching the front and discard immediately into a closed bin or, if the mask is reusable, directly into the washing machine.


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