FILE PHOTO Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi / African News Agency (ANA)

Researchers rank the best mask for Covid-19

A preliminary analysis of 194 countries found that places where masks weren’t recommended saw a 55 percent weekly increase in coronavirus deaths per capita after their first case was reported.

DURBAN – There’s been a lot of talk about the use of face masks since the Coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). President Cyril Ramaphosa has also reinforced the mandatory wearing of masks in public or in public places and failure those who fail to comply will face a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

WHO recommends medical masks for healthcare workers, elderly people, people with underlying health conditions, and people who have tested positive for the coronavirus or show symptoms. According to the health body, healthy people who don’t fall into these categories should wear a fabric mask.

A preliminary analysis of 194 countries found that places, where masks weren’t recommended, saw a 55 percent weekly increase in coronavirus deaths per capita after their first case was reported, compared with 7 percent in countries with cultures or guidelines supporting mask-wearing.

The researchers ranked the mask types as follows:

  • The N99 masks reduced a person’s risk of infection by 94 to 99 percent after 20 minutes of exposure in a highly contaminated environment.
  • The N95 masks offered almost as much protection – the name refers to its minimum 95 percent efficiency at filtering aerosols. Another recent study also determined that N95 masks offered better protection than surgical masks.
  • Disposable surgical masks are made of nonwoven fabric, so they’re usually the safest option for healthcare workers who don’t have access to an N99 or N95 masks.
  • Denser fabrics in multiple layers; the researchers also evaluated other materials and found that tea-towel fabric, cotton-blend fabrics and antimicrobial pillowcase fabrics were your next best, and more available, option.
  • Single-layered scarves and cotton T-shirts; Many authorities stated that any type of home-made covering can be worn over the face and nose. The researchers found that these options are only slightly effective – reducing your risk of infection by 44 percent after 30 seconds and 24 percent after 20 minutes.

UK researchers have found that people who wore cotton masks had a 54 percent lower chance of infection than people who wore no masks at all. People who wore paper masks had a 39 percent lower chance of infection than the no-mask group.


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