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When the coronavirus epidemic began, the craft group that I belong to made over 100 face masks for an old age home in a disadvantaged area of Cape Town. We took simple rectangles and attached elastic and sent them off. Months later, I think of those masks and wish I could do them again. I have since done a lot of research into patterns for face masks, and have settled on one that rises over the nose and has a wire insert over the bridge of the nose. I use 100% cotton, lined with calico. We now have a pile of masks by the front door, for use by all members of the family on all occasions. (My 17-year-son insisted on black fabric and black elastic, of course.) This Wall Street Journal article goes over the basics again, for those late to the mask party. – Renee Moodie
How face masks work and which types offer the best Covid-19 protection
By Austen Hufford and Andrew Williams
Face masks are a simple way to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus through talking, coughing or sneezing, scientists and public-health specialists say. But they need to be worn properly.
While some types of masks are more effective than others, public-health officials say any face covering — even a bandanna — is better than nothing.
Read also: Covid-19 masks: Beg, borrow, steal, improvise – a face covering could save your life
Here’s how different types of masks stack up, and how they are meant to be used.
Cut from different cloth
Common masks fall into three categories: cloth masks or coverings like gaiters, intended to prevent an infected person from spreading the virus by catching large droplets; surgical masks, with a more sophisticated design also meant to prevent the wearer from spreading diseases; and N95 masks, which protect the wearer as well, and fit tightly to the face.
Fit vs. function
A good cloth mask filters well and is comfortable to breathe through.
A cloth mask should consist of three layers: an inner layer near the mouth that can get moist, a middle filtration layer and an outer layer exposed to the outside environment. Here are the materials for homemade masks that do this best, according to the World Health Organization, using a scale that combines filter quality and breathability. A higher rating is better.
How a mask fits is as important as what it is made of.
How to put on a mask
Also read: Still doubting the face mask? New research shows why you’re wrong – Wall Street Journal
N95 masks filter out at least 95% of very small particles when worn properly, including droplets carrying viruses. Versions with a plastic valve at the center, which makes the mask easier to exhale through, are intended for industrial workers and offer protection only to the wearer.
True N95s aren’t easy to wear properly. They must have a tight seal to the face to ensure that all air goes through the filter instead of around the edges. But they offer the best protection against the coronavirus, which is why the WHO recommends these masks be reserved for health-care workers.
Write to Austen Hufford at [email protected]
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