BRITS are currently in lockdown, but still need to go to high risk areas like supermarkets where extra protection is important.
Masks like N95 surgical face masks are a good option but where can you get them and is the protection they offer effective?
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The bottom line is that anything is better than nothing.
Some single use masks can be sterilized in the oven to make them good to go again and save you money.
You can also make your own mask from common household items that is as effective as most of the ones on the market.
Where can I buy N95 surgical face masks?
When buying a mask beware of the language being used by sellers as the level of protection provided varies.
UK Meds is offering FFP2 (N95-equivalent) single-use surgical face masks for a price of £11.95.
You can also get a box of three masks for £28.95.
You can also buy 50 standard surgical masks for £49.99.
All folded valved masks are currently out of stock, while you can not get the ten pack of unvalved ones.
Amazon also offer a variety of different face masks, with the surgical models available for under £10 with free delivery.
eBay also sells a variety of surgical face masks.
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Do N95 face masks protect me from coronavirus?
The WHO recommends that only two groups of people should wear N95 face masks. These are:
- People who are sick and showing symptoms
- People caring for those with coronavirus.
Surgical masks for general public use is debated because they can become contaminated by other people’s coughs and sneezes or when putting them on and removing them, but it beats nothing.
The government’s scientific advisors are reviewing whether or not to make mask-wearing mandatory. They are expected to reach a verdict this week.
Experts also warn that these masks can offer a false sense of security and frequent hand-washing and social distancing are more effective.
It is also recommended that only healthcare workers should be wearing the most protective N95/FPP2 and FPP3 masks.
Cheaper face masks made by reusable cloth are also not recommended and could increase chances of infection.
Public Health England has warned that masks are only effective if used properly.
A spokesperson said: “Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour in order for them to be effective.
“Research also shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing facemasks for prolonged periods.”
What are N95 masks?
N95 masks are disposable face masks that are proven to filter the air to an industrial standard.
Manufacturers vary, but the N95 is a stamp from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to show that it is efficient, which comes with a logo.
They are used to stop you from breathing in hazardous small particles, such as dust, mould or aerosol paint particles.
They generally have an eight-hour shelf life before becoming clogged depending on the work you’re doing.