Omicron’s containment may require you to upgrade your masks as new studies suggest the variant may not be blocked by the single-layered cloth masks being used widely. The new COVID-19 variant has been tagged as highly infectious by experts.

While the cloth masks may be more fashionable and comfortable to wear, media reports citing experts suggest that they are usually unable to restrict the smaller aerosols or particles that can also carry the virus.

Also Read: Dr Anthony Fauci warns of surge in hospitalisations due to omicron wave

According to reports from Wall Street Journal, the surgical masks are equipped with polypropylene electrostatic charge characteristics, while N95 grade masks usually have tighter mesh fibers. This allows the N95 to have boosted efficiency against the virus.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has laid out clear guidelines for the usage, selection and maintenance of masks in order to prevent the spread of COVID.

The healthcare body advises to not use masks that are made of fabric that makes it hard to breathe, have exhalation valves or vents that allow virus particles to escape and those that are specially labeled “surgical” N95 respirators, as those should be prioritized for healthcare personnel.

Instead, the Centers for Disease Control recommends using masks that have two or more layers of washable and breathable fabric, completely cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of your face and have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.

Also Read: Omicron is less severe as it spares the lungs, studies suggest

The current recommendations from the healthcare body include guidelines for everyone above the age of 2, who have been advised to wear a mask in indoor public places.

In outdoor settings, people are not required to wear masks. However, in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, United States CDC advises the consideration of wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.