RICO’s COVID DIGEST – Given the exponential increase in infections this past week, on Tuesday record 4,050 new cases were reported by the Ministry of Health, when only weeks ago that number averaged a few hundred daily, one of the best first lines of defense not get infected is the use of the face mask.
But which is the best mask?
While it is true in recent days, images have circulated on social networks detailing the effectiveness of each type of mask to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-Cov2, the truth is that not even the best mask works if it is not used properly, the correct way.
That is the opinion of experts, including Costa Rica’s own Juan José Romero, epidemiologist at the National University (UNA), in conversation on Columbia radio.
Now, understanding that if it is used correctly, there are masks that can more effectively prevent the spread of the virus, for example, N95 or KN95
On the other hand, depending on where you go or are, you can also use a double mask to generate greater protection.
The epidemiologist also spoke about the time of infection with the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Romero explained that in about five days after confirming positive, it can be considered that the person would no longer transmit the virus so easily; however, the expert recommends that it be seven days.
This has been pointed out in other countries; at the moment in Costa Rica, the isolation period is 10 days.
According to Forbes magazine, health officials warn against wearing a single reusable cloth mask to protect against the omicron variant, as tiny droplets can still make it through large pores of fabric.
Experts recommend wearing a tight-fitting mask with efficient filtration like an N95, KN95 or KF94 mask, which can filter out at least 95% of airborne particles, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The difference between the three masks comes down to which country or organization certified the mask: the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health certifies N95 masks, while KN95 masks are manufactured in China and meet Chinese standards and KF94 masks meet Korean standard requirements.
If N95, KN95 or KF94 masks are difficult to find, experts say double masking, specifically a surgical mask with a cloth mask on top, can provide better protection than just a single cloth mask.
N95, KN95 and KF94 masks can be reused, as long as they don’t have bodily fluids on them, broken straps or a broken nose piece, according to the CDC.
To clean these types of masks, place the mask into a paper bag at room temperature for at least three to four days, or heat the mask at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour—both of which are effective at allowing virus particles to die off—according to a study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.