Thursday Dec 23 2021
Web Desk

Experts caution against cloth masks amid Omicron threat

Web Desk
Representational image of fancy cloth masks. — AFP
Representational image of fancy cloth masks. — AFP

  • Several countries have reinforced mask-wearing amid winter festivities.
  • "They can be really good or really terrible," an Oxford professor says.
  • Britain, Greece, Spain are among nations to reinforce restriction.

Governments around the world are preparing themselves to fight against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus by tightening restrictions to contain its spread. 

Several countries, amid the new restrictions, have made it compulsory to wear face masks as winter festivities have started across the world.

"They can be really good or really terrible, depending on what fabric is used," University of Oxford's professor of primary health care service, Trish Greenhalgh, said about cloth masks, as reported by NDTV.

Masks consisting of double or triple layers made of mixed materials can be more effective, Greenhalgh said, as he termed most of the cloth coverings as "fashion accessories". 

Greenhalgh has informed that the main issue with a cloth covering is that they don't have to meet any kind of health standard, which is in contracts to the N95 respirator mask, which filters out 95% of particles. 

Again a good filtration would do no good in case of giving you protection if the mask doesn't cover your nose and mouth properly, and the other specification is that you need to be able to breathe easily through the mask, Greenhalgh added.

Peter Juni, head of Ontario's Science Advisory Table, in an interview with CTV News, said: "The issue here is if you have a single-layer, the ability to filtrate is absolutely minimal and doesn't make a difference whatsoever." 

Britain had earlier this month reinforced masks compulsory on public transport, shops and some indoor venues — the rules which were relaxed in the previous summer.

Greece on Thursday said face masks would be compulsory both indoors and outside to limit the spread of the coronavirus during Christmas and New Year's gatherings.

Similar, Spain will reimpose a nationwide rule requiring the use of face masks outdoors, the government said Wednesday, as the country grapples with a spike in COVID-19 infections.