US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is set to update its mask advice this week ( January 12-14th 2022 )- to best reflect the available options and the different levels of protection they provide, a CDC official told CNN Tuesday. Many experts say cloth and surgical masks don’t provide enough protection, and instead encourage N95 or FFP2
coverings. Upgraded masks are already the norm in much of Europe. Germany mandates FFP2 coverings in stores, on public transport, and in 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 one’s household, and they have been required indoors since last month.
Italy mandated the heavy-duty masks to enter stadiums, museums, cinemas, and theaters, and use public transport from December. And in Greece, anyone who has left self-isolation must wear them in any public place for five days.
The differing terminology for the masks can be confusing, but all the terms refer to the level of filtration offered by the covering — and there’s no doubting that FFP2, N95 or KN95 models offer better protection than those made from cloth or other fabrics.
Cloth masks — encouraged earlier in the pandemic — can stop large droplets, while more effective masks can also filter smaller aerosols or particles potentially laden with the airborne viruses. Properly fitted N95 respirators that are approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health can filter up to 95% of particles in the air, according to the CDC.