Covid: Experts back mask upgrade; proper fitting holds the key | India News

PUNE: Members of Maharashtra task force on Covid-19 have hinted at upgrading masks in view of experts’ advice on tweaking Covid-appropriate behaviour to higher standards to protect people from the Omicron infection.
Vinod Scaria, principal scientist at Delhi-based CSIRIGIB, which is part of INSACOG, said in a recent tweet that a “right-fitting” mask was of utmost importance.
“The unequivocal winner is without surprise a right-fitting FFP2 mask. Mean infection risk is one in 1,000 when the infected and susceptible wear a proper fitting FFP2 mask. Surgical masks fare much poorly (risk is one in 10). It might actually be a great idea to upgrade masks, in high-risk groups like immunocompromised and people with comorbodities.”

Caution

State task force member Dr Shashank Joshi said, “Covid is an airborne droplet virus. One has to use well-fitting masks to prevent catching the virus in the air… If an individual is wearing a cloth mask, s/he must additionally wear a surgical 3-ply mask so the cover against virus droplets is adequate.” He said the transmissibility of the ancestral strain from Wuhan was 3.5, which moved up to six for the Delta variant and over nine for Omicron.
“Rapidity of transmission is very high for Delta and Omicron, which is why in healthcare and crowded settings, it’s very important to wear an N95 or FFP2 mask. The mask also should be well-fitted. Leaving gaps in mask even if it’s covering the mouth and the nose can pose risk of transmission.”
Vasant Nagvekar, consultant, infectious diseases, and state task force member, said: “With Omicron in the picture, old concepts may need tweaking. For instance, many of those with a prior infection plus both vaccine doses are also contracting the infection. But the infection has been mild,” he said.
Dr Maria Nigam, physician and principal founder PRANA, said, “N95 or FFP2 masks prevent around 95% of airborne virus particles from entering the nasal airway. But the surgical mask that most people wear is not good enough to block transmission effectively.”

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