Experts: Cloth masks are ineffective against Omicron; surgical masks preferred
Health researchers are now saying that cloth face masks are no match for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and are recommending that people switch to a more protective mask.
Everyone has been stocking up on cloth or disposable masks since the pandemic began. But now health experts are saying that people should be wearing N95 or KN95 masks instead.
"In terms of current protection against SARS COV2, the cloth masks would be considered highly ineffective,” says Dr. Stanley Weiss.
Weiss is an infectious and chronic disease epidemiologist and professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He says that cloth masks do very little to prevent the virus particles from getting into one’s nose and mouth. He, along with other health experts, says that the KN95 and N95 masks offer more protection. But they need to be worn properly.
“I’ve seen people with the mask under their nose. That doesn’t offer you protection, and it doesn’t protect others,” Weiss says.
But what if someone does not have access to surgical masks?
“If you have nothing else, maybe you don’t go out into public and be exposed to other people,” says Weiss. “But if you absolutely have to, wearing a cloth mask with a couple of layers will offer probably limited protections. Better than nothing.”
Weiss says that he would also like to see more governmental guidance on masks based on the research so that everyone is on the same page.
He also says that people need to start focusing on child-size masks and developing masks to fit kids of all ages, shapes and sizes.