COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in.
Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.
You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.
FFP masks filtering face piece are classified as half masks. Their use is required to prevent the entry of pathogens through the airway and have the role of protecting both the wearer and the surrounding people. They are different from medical MNC, (often referred to as “surgical masks”), and from “self-made” masks for everyday use. MNCs and self-made masks are not “leak-proof” and do not provide complete respiratory protection since air can escape through them. FFP 1 masks are dust masks and mainly used for this purpose. They do not prevent COVID-19 infections. FFP1 masks are suitable for work environments in which only non-toxic dusts are found.
FFP2-masks fulfil a set of stricter protective norms. They protect the person wearing them, as > 95% of particles and droplets are held back when inhaling. FFP2-masks also effectively protect the environment as long as there is no exhaling valve. In contrast, masks with an exhaling valve let exhaled air pass out unfiltered, with contamination of the immediate environment.
At a time when many people are already stressed out by anti-corona measures, this is news that no one will like to hear: The EU’s health agency, ECDC, expresses doubt that FFP2 masks add enough to everyday life to make them worth wearing. “The expected added value of universal use of FFP2 respirators in the community is very low,” the Stockholm-based agency told Deutsche Presse-Agentur in response to a query.
Speaking in Brussels, EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides confirmed the EU agency’s assessment. “The ECDC says the evidence is not strong enough at the moment for a need to recommend this in everyday life,” Kyriakides said in response to questions. The important thing, he said, is to wear a mask correctly in the first place and to keep your distance. “But right now, ECDC does not support the wearing of FFP2 masks in the community, according to the evidence they have.”
The cost and possible disadvantages also militate against recommending that FFP2 masks be worn in public instead of other masks, the ECDC said. However, no details were given on these possible disadvantages.
Germany is weighing up following Austria and Bavaria’s lead in making it compulsory to wear full protective filter masks on public transport and in shops, as the country remains on high alert about the impact of possible coronavirus mutations.
The Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, announced on Sunday that wearing single-use filtering facepiece respirator, or FFP2, masks would become mandatory on public transport and in shops from 25 January, as the Alpine state moves to extend its national lockdown until 7 February.
In Germany’s largest and southernmost state, Bavaria, a similar requirement for trains, trams, buses and supermarkets came into force on Monday, though the new rule will not be policed until 24 January and allows for exemptions for bus drivers, ticket inspectors and children under the age of 15.
FFP3-mask: FFP3-masks protect the user even more effectively than FFP2, as > 99% of droplets and particles are filtered when inhaling. FFP3-masks also protect the environment in the absence of an exhaling valve.
FFP2 masks have a minimum of 94% filtration percentage whilst FFP3 masks are the most filtering mask of the FFPs. With a minimum filtration percentage of 99%, they protect against very fine particles such as asbestos.
The WHO states that the declared protective effect of these masks recommended during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic can be severely reduced by their inappropriate use, such as improper donning or doffing, insufficient maintenance, long or repeated use of disposable masks, no dry cleaning of fabric masks, or using masks made of non-protective material.