Maybe it’s time to update your mask

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Many experts claim that fabric and surgical masks do not provide sufficient protection and instead encourage N95 or FFP2 coatings.

Improved masks are already the norm in much of Europe. Germany requires FFP2 coatings in shops, public transport and other public places. Neighboring Austria made FFP2 masks mandatory outdoors on Tuesday, when it is not possible to keep a minimum of two meters from people outside your home, and they have been mandatory indoors since the month last.

Italy has mandated resistant masks to enter stadiums, museums, cinemas and theaters, and use public transport from December. And in Greece, anyone who has been released from solitary confinement must wear them in any public place for five days.

The different terminology for masks can be confusing, but all terms refer to the level of filtration offered by the coating – and there is no doubt that the FFP2, N95 or KN95 models offer better protection than those made from fabric or other fabrics.

Sheet masks – encouraged earlier in the pandemic – can stop large droplets, while more effective masks can also filter out smaller aerosols or potentially virus-laden particles suspended in the air.

Properly fitting N95 respirators approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health can filter out up to 95% of particles in the air, according to the CDC.

FFP2 or N95 masks are already mandatory in some parts of Europe.
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A cloth face cover, on the other hand, also has 75% inward and outward leakage, which the United States Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists defines as the “percentage of particles entering the mask” and the “percentage. of particles exhaled by a source exiting the mask, “respectively.

People who are concerned about how best to protect themselves and their loved ones during this wave of Omicron variant cases should “get the highest quality mask that you can tolerate and that is available to you,” Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, CNN’s Anderson Cooper told Tuesday, signaling a change in the official notice.

The problem so far is that filtration masks are generally more expensive, a little less convenient to wear, and earlier in the pandemic they weren’t always widely available.

This explains why the CDC has so far actively encouraged members of the public not to purchase N95 masks – currently indicating on its website that they should be “prioritized for healthcare workers.”

But Fauci told CNN that “at the moment, [there] doesn’t seem to run out of masks that weren’t available some time ago. “

“What the CDC said – and this is misinterpreted – they say, it’s better to wear any mask than no mask at all,” Fauci said. “But there is a gradation in the ability to keep you from getting infected and passing it on to someone else. So we should wear the best masks possible. It is a fact.”

CNN’s Nina Avramova Contributed to the reporting

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.

Q: When is it safe to leave isolation if I have had Covid-19?

A: Guidelines for times of isolation are continually changing across the world – and can be confusing and contradictory at times.

If you’ve tested positive, the first step is to check the indications where you are. In the United States, people can leave isolation after five days if their symptoms are gone – no negative testing is required – and they should then wear a mask around people for an additional five days.

In other countries, it can be up to 14 days. But more and more regions are allowing early releases from isolation if patients are asymptomatic, leaving it up to you to judge whether you should.

The chances that you are still contagious decrease over time. The longer you stay isolated, the less exposed you are to someone else to the virus. Ten days after testing positive, the percentage of people still infectious is estimated at around 5%, according to researchers from the UK Health Security Agency.

However, by day 5, the end of the CDC’s isolation period, a significant percentage of people (31%) are still contagious. By the seventh day, the percentage of people who are still contagious halves, to around 16%.

If you have access to a rapid antigen test, it may be useful to do one or two during your isolation. The combination of a negative result and a self-assessment of your symptoms should help you determine whether you need to leave isolation as soon as possible in your country.

Send your questions here. Are you a healthcare worker battling Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp regarding the challenges you are facing: +1 347-322-0415.

READINGS OF THE WEEK

Cases of Covid in children are on the rise. Schools are not prepared

As Covid-19 cases skyrocketed in Britain at the end of December, Stuart Guest spent his vacation looking at scientific reports on air purification and filtration systems.

Guest, a primary school principal in Birmingham, England, searched Amazon for affordable air purifiers in hopes of preventing the more transmissible Omicron variant from spreading among his 460 students aged 3 to 11 year.

“I have what I think is the best air purifier for the budget I have. I hope I have something that does the job, but I’m no expert. And there is. had no guidelines issued by the Education Department. I had to do it all myself, and I shouldn’t have to do it when it comes to a national crisis, “said Guest.

Millions of UK students have returned to school after the Christmas and New Years holidays, amid a record increase in infections and hospitalizations. For teachers and parents, the situation brought a grim sense of déjà vu, writes Eliza Mackintosh.

And in the United States, more children than ever are admitted to hospitals. The Biden administration has said schools are “more than equipped” to stay open as Omicron tears itself apart across the country.

But some elected officials err on the side of caution in delaying the new term, as a teachers’ union forced public schools in Chicago, Ill., To close for a week amid criticism from members that conditions in classrooms are dangerous.

Beijing on high alert as China’s first Omicron cluster draws closer ahead of Olympics

Beijing authorities are on high alert weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics, after China’s first local Omicron variant outbreak spread from the northern port city of Tianjin to central province from Henan.

Tianjin, located just 80 miles southeast of Beijing, reported at least 40 positive cases over the weekend, including 24 children, although health officials have yet to confirm whether they are infected with Omicron. .

But the virus has already spread far from the city. State media reported on Monday that two more cases of Omicron had been identified in Anyang City, Henan Province, more than 300 miles from Tianjin, Nectar Gan and Steve George report.

In recent months, Chinese authorities have imposed increasingly stringent restrictions to curb local outbreaks of Covid as Beijing prepares for the Olympics. An Omicron outbreak at the gates of the capital just weeks before the Games kick off on February 4 represents a nightmare scenario for officials – who are now likely to step up efforts to protect Beijing.

No, you shouldn’t purposely grab Omicron to ‘get it over with’

The question hung in the air like a bad smell, silencing the small group of fully vaccinated and boosted friends and family at my table.

“Why don’t you just take Omicron and be done?” It’s sweet, isn’t it? And it can enhance immunity? The fully vaccinated, boosted and well-educated friend who asked was sincere, echoing opinions heard on many social platforms.

The idea of ​​intentionally trying to catch Omicron is “all the rage,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, with an exasperated sigh.

“It has spread like wildfire,” agreed Dr Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“And it is widespread, coming from all types of people, the vaccinated and boosted and the anti-vaccines,” he added, with a warning. “You’d be crazy to try and get infected with this. It’s like playing with dynamite.”

BEST ADVICE

The United States Food and Drug Administration warns against adding self-collected throat swabs to Covid-19 nasal tests and says people should use the tests as directed.

“FACT: When it comes to rapid home testing for # COVID19 antigen, these swabs are meant for your nose, not your throat,” he said on Twitter.

Why the warning? After anecdotal reports of a sore throat with coronavirus infection and early studies suggesting that saliva may be a better way to detect the Omicron variant, some people have started taking antigen test swabs intended for nasal samples and to use them to dab the throat.

The home test setting took off after people started posting their results on social media with the hashtag #SwabYourThroat.

The FDA warned last week that throat swabs “are more complicated than nasal swabs – and if used incorrectly, can harm the patient. The CDC recommends that throat swabs be collected by a professional. qualified health “.

Throat swabs are common in some places, such as the UK, but in the US most self-tests require nasal swabs; a few involve the saliva collected by spitting into a tube.

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