Increase the effectiveness of face masks by up to 85% by wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask.
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Since the beginning of the Biden administration, back in January, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for almost 40 years, advocated the practice of double masking. Since then, the practice slowly gained traction.
This month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backed the idea and released a guide that could increase the effectiveness of facemasks in the light of new and more infectious Covid-19 strains.
According to the guide, doubling up on masks could block up to 85.4% of particles that could consist of the highly infectious virus. In comparison, a standard surgical mask would only block 56.1% of the same particles.
The idea of double-masking is now echoed by the Health Ministry and Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The advisory released from The Desk of the Heath Director-General states that “wearing two masks could make it more difficult to breathe, but double-masking is generally well-tolerated and does not reduce oxygen supply”.
It detailed how the correct way to double-up on masks is to wear a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask. In other words, wear one of those washable, reusable masks, on top of the masks that come out of a box.
Do not wear two surgical masks or two cloth masks. It is not as effective as wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask. Also, you don’t have to double-up if you wear an N95 mask, which is referred to as the “golden standard”.
Knot and tuck
So what if you only have those surgical masks at home? Do not double-up. The advisory suggests to “tie the ear loops close to the edges of the mask and tuck in the side pleats to minimise gaps”.
This small practice of making sure the surgical mask is sealed snug to your face will increase its effectiveness from 56.1% to 77%.
Download a PDF of the advisory from the Desk of the Health Director-General here.