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The best masks for respiratory disease protection

Research has shown that face masks prevent respiratory diseases from spreading, but some masks are more effective than others.
There is still a risk of catching the infamous
COVID-19. For most vaccinated people symptoms are mild, but around 8% of people who have COVID end up suffering from long COVID, which can shorten life expectancy, especially if they are reinfected. Face masks help protect vulnerable people. 

An article in theconversation.com co-authored by its Associate Editor, Jonathan Este and Rebecca Rudman from McMasters Cloth Mask Knowledge Exchange, reviewed the protection levels of face masks. Their advice is:
“Wear the best mask available.”
The only type of masks that are officially recognised as providing respiratory protection are N95, CaN99, and FFP3 masks. If these masks are fit-tested, they produce more than 99% protection. 
Medical masks certified to level 1 and inexpensive cloth masks sold to the public than do not fit well typically filter about 50% of particles. They allow unfiltered air to pass around the edges of the mask. Cloth masks that don’t fit well are better than no masks.
During the COVID pandemic, mask-wearing was mandatory. The authors of the article claim that mask mandates are backed by convincing evidence of the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of respiratory diseases. They say that the compulsory wearing of masks can help lessen deaths and disabilities caused by respiratory viruses. They recognise that there is resistance to wearing masks in Western countries, unlike Asia where there is a mask-wearing culture.


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