You’ve probably heard people talking about or seen social media posts being shared around on ‘double mask’ or ‘double-masking’. What is it and is it in the newest MCO SOP by the National Security Council (NSC) that Malaysians are required to practice?
In a press conference on May 22, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah encouraged Malaysians to start wearing double face masks and a face shield in crowded and high-risk public areas, such as hospitals.
He said wearing two face masks could filter up to 95% of the COVID-19 virus, although the government has not made it compulsory for now.
Dr Noor Hisham said there was a report recently stating that the COVID-19 virus could be airborne and not only spread by droplets.
Since February of this year, the Centers for Disease Control, United States (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious diseases expert, have validated the use of double face masks. It was found to help filter out more particles than a single cloth face mask.
Now that double-masking is encouraged by local and international health experts, many of you may want to start practising it but how to do it effectively, you may ask. Here’s a quick guide from the CDC to enhance the use of face masks and how to double mask right:
Two methods have been studied to increase the effectiveness of the use of face masks. The methods are known as knot and tuck, and double-masking.
Regarding double-masking, CDC studies show that wearing a double face mask (cloth face mask over medical face mask) can reduce a wearer’s risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
Knot and Tuck
With knot and tuck, what you simply need to do is to tie the ear loops of your 3-ply face mask to the edges of the face mask and insert the side folds of the face mask to reduce the gap with the face.
Watch this video to see the demonstration on how to knot and tuck.
Of course, wearing two face masks will make breathing a little difficult, but in general, the use of a medical face mask (3-ply surgical mask) with a cloth face mask can be used well by most users and it does not reduce the oxygen supply to the wearer.
Effectiveness Percentage of Face Masks
The infographic below shows the comparison of the percentage effectiveness of face masks. Double face masks were found to provide 85.4% protection.
Double Mask Properly
What’s the proper method of wearing a double face mask? The answer is to use a medical face mask with a cloth face mask. Avoid wearing two medical face masks or two cloth face masks as double face masks. While the N95 face mask should be used only once and not paired with other face masks.
Now that you know the right and effective way to use double face masks, you can finally start double-masking in public and especially in high-risk areas to better protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19.
Read more on the CDC guideline on how to improve how your mask protects you here.