Fabric Face Masks Not As Effective As Surgical Masks, Says Expert

fabric face masks not as effective as surgical masks, says expert

As you must know by now, wearing a face mask has become a daily norm for millions of Malaysians.

And with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, now is a good time to take a closer look at the efficacy of your masks.

There are plenty of mask options out there - for example, fabric, surgical and N95 respirators.

But do you know which ones are most effective at blocking respiratory droplets?

Health experts believe that using fabric face masks are not as good as the single-use surgical face masks for blocking emissions of droplets from coughing and sneezing.

Respiratory specialist, Dr Kow Ken Siong told Astro Radio News that all types of face masks work to a certain degree.

  1. N95 surgical face masks block 100% of droplets.
  2. Non-surgical N95 facemasks block 98-99% of droplets.
  3. Fabric face masks block 96% of droplets.

In essence, a fabric face mask can let close to 1,000 sneeze droplets through, containing millions of viral particles.

Despite this, Dr Kow said wearing any type of face masks is far more effective than not wearing one at all.

However, he suggested only considering a cloth mask as a last resort.

This comes following claims that the use of fabric masks was causing the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, which have since been refuted by the Health Ministry (MOH).

On whether individuals will be able to contract COVID-19 whilst wearing a face mask, Dr Kow believes they can.

“The true purpose of face masks is to keep respiratory droplets from sneezes and cough from getting into the environment and infecting others. It is not as effective in preventing inhalation of infected respiratory droplets already in the environment.

“So, wearing a face mask offers substantial, but not complete protection because they decrease but do not completely block inhalation of infected respiratory droplets," he said.

Remember, guys, besides donning a face mask, practising physical distancing and minimising face-to-face contact are also important.

Please continue to follow SOPs and let's flatten the curve together!


by Roshini Ravindran