Q&A

Mask

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False - Mostly False - Partially True - Mostly True - True

Q. Surgical N95 masks better than KF94 masks?

Mostly False. The COVID-19 virus is known to transmit through close contact of less than 1.8 meters/6 feet with droplet transmission[1]. According to the Infectious Diseases Division expert of Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital, KF80 respiratory masks can sufficiently prevent droplet transmission. (Droplets are more than 5㎛ in diameters while KF80 blocks more than 80% of particles which are on average. 0.6㎛[2]) It is emphasized that persistently wearing a less preventive mask is better than occasionally wearing surgical masks because of factors like breathing difficulties[3]. What is more important than the blocking rate is the proper use. Many dismiss this point and don’t follow the proper method[3]. Wearing contaminated respiratory masks from the wrong usage may be highly ineffective. It is more important is “to ‘properly wear the mask’ with the right fit, without loose ends” than choosing a certain type of mask[4]. Before putting it on, you should clean your hands with soap or a sanitizer, not touch the front of the mask while in use, and take it out only with the string around the ears after which you should immediately discard it and clean your hands properly[5].

Q. It’s not okay to wear a cotton mask for COVID-19?

Mostly False. According to the KCDC and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, if the probability of infection is low or there are no respiratory masks available, cotton masks(with clean electrostatic filters) are helps prevent direct contact with droplets from coughing or sneezing[1]. However, if there are probabilities of infection such as through contact with an infectee or one suffers from underlying diseases, wearing respiratory masks is advised[1]. Moreover, when using cotton masks with an electrostatic filter, the filter should be replaced if torn or wet[1].

Q. Is it better to attach an electrostatic filter on a cotton mask?

Mostly True. As a result of experiment conducted by the Seoul Institute of Health and Environment, cotton masks with a handmade electrostatic filter can block on average 80%-95% fine particles like the KF80 sanitary masks. This is unlike no-filter cotton masks with 16%-22% protection rate[1]. However, according to the revised advice from the Food Safety and Drug Administration, the electrostatic filter of cotton masks should be replaced if torn or wet[2].

Q. Will I be safe if I wear a full-face mask?

Mostly False. According to the Severance Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases expert, the mask performance is determined by how it is worn and its effectiveness (how small of a particle can it filter) not how wide it can cover. Therefore, it is difficult to say that covering the entire face with a full-face mask is effective. It is most important to wear a well-covering mask[1][2].

Q. Are there any precautions when throwing away a mask?

The WHO advises to fold a mask without making contact with its outer surface because the surface is likely to be contaminated[1]. KCDC advises to grab the mask by the strap without touching the rest when taking off the mask[2]. Lastly, make sure to properly wash your hands after throwing it away[1].

Q. Is it OK to use a hairdryer to sterilize masks?

False. The KCDC and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) said that in principle, disposable masks should not be reused. However, when reusing in inevitable situations they should not be microwaved, sterilized with alcohol, washed, or dried with a hairdryer because that reduces an electrostatic filter’s performance[1].

Q. Does wearing multiple masks help against COVID-19?

False. The WHO clarified that “wearing multiple masks is not effective against COVID-19 and can be harmful. If there are symptoms of fever, cough, or breathing difficulties, one should visit the medical facility before it gets worse”[1]. 

Q. Can I reuse a respiratory mask if it is microwaved?

False. Dal-hwan Kim, a researcher from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said, “A respiratory mask works by electrostatically filtering out particles. Microwaving could damage the filter, so it is inappropriate”[1][2]. 

© 2020 created by 연세대학교 (Yonsei Univ.) 고등교육혁신원 (IHEI) - ARMS & SaChoom       

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