The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause massive panic around the globe. The outbreak has been heightened with the fact that new variants keep emerging. Whereas you may have been vaccinated, that does not put you in the clear. You still have to wear a mask as a primary form of protection. But what mask can provide the most effective protection from these new variants?
Initially, reusable cloth masks were seen as a viable choice. These were low-cost, and you only needed to wash them for the next use. However, the CDC has recently advised that the N95 and KN95 masks be used. The N95 mask has the most effective protection in public spaces since it is more effective against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant.
NIOSH approved N95
One thing that motivates the use of N95 masks against these new variants is that it has been approved by Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Unlike at the start of the pandemic, these masks are no longer in short supply, and the CDC recommends they be used instead of cloth masks.
The N95 mask tests show that they can filter up to 95% of particles in the air. There is a catch, though, for this. For starters, the mask must be approved by NIOSH, and you must wear it correctly. Keep in mind that not all the masks you come across are genuine. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that about 60% of the masks in the market are counterfeit.
A combined CDC study on the N95 and the KN95 masks placed them at a 48% effectiveness rating compared to the surgical or cloth masks. Furthermore, the study found that you have 83% protection against SARS-CoV-2 when you wear an N95 mask. This is impressive compared to 66% for surgical masks and 56% for cloth masks.
Secure the mask well on your face
The BNX N95 mask is, without doubt, the most effective against emerging variants of COVID-19. However, that does not mean having the mask puts you in the clear against the virus. You need to closely pay attention to how you are wearing it.
Properly secure the N95 mask around your head with two fitting bands at the back of your head and neck. It is a counterfeit if your mask comes with an ear loop rather than bands. As part of its tight approval policy, NIOSH requires that any N95 mask be made with head/neck bands instead of ear loops.
A common mistake we’ve noted with some people is that they tie both bands at the back of their heads. That is wrong. One band must be at the back of the head and the other at the neck. Doing so gives you a firm and tight fit.
Ensure you have your N95 mask in public
By looking at people, you can never tell who has the COVID-19 variant and who doesn’t. Thus, create the habit of consistently wearing the mask when you go out in public.
Also, have your mask on in enclosed spaces with a quarantined person. And as you come from quarantine or isolation, ensure you consistently wear your N95 mask for the next ten days.
Remember that being relaxed while wearing N95 masks will help you keep them on. Breathe comfortably to avoid anxiety or feelings of suffocation. And when you feel uncomfortable, try walking around or moving to a place where you feel safe.