While COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down, there are some simple things that can be done to help reduce the spread. As detailed by The World Health Organisation (WHO), studies of influenza, influenza-like illnesses, and human coronaviruses (not including COVID-19) have shown that the use of a medical mask can help to prevent the spread of infectious droplets from an infected person to someone else. Masks can also help to reduce potential contamination of the environment caused by these infectious droplets.
While it isn’t mandatory for New Zealanders to wear a mask when in Alert Level 1, it is still encouraged for masks to be worn on public transport, and if the ability to safely social distance isn’t possible. So you may be wondering, just which mask is best to protect against COVID-19?
There are now such an array of different masks available (both disposable and reusable), that it can be hard to know which are the most suitable, and where the best place to buy face masks is in New Zealand.
In this blog we’ve covered what you need to know about wearing face masks to stay protected against COVID-19, the different types of masks available to you, and where you can access the right face masks. Read on to learn more.
How can masks keep you protected against COVID-19?
As we’ve already covered in this blog, wearing a face mask can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – masks can aid in minimising the spread of infectious droplets from people who may already have the virus. When there is community transmission of the virus, wearing a mask is even more important as this can reduce the risk of infection from people that may have COVID-19, but have no visible symptoms (asymptomatic). A face mask can help to stop infectious droplets spreading when they speak, cough or sneeze.
Face masks are encouraged to be worn by the WHO in situations where community transmission is prominent, or where social distancing is difficult i.e. crowded public transport or shopping centres. Some airlines also make the use of face masks mandatory – depending on where you’re flying and the plane that you’re on, it can be hard to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre.
It’s important to note that while face masks are an important measure in helping to minimise the spread of COVID-19 they shouldn’t be the only step taken to keep yourself, and those around you, safe. As recommended by the Ministry of Health, you should also be practising:
- Correct hand hygiene which includes washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Physical distancing.
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow.
- Regularly cleaning high-contact surfaces.
- Staying at home if you feel unwell.
Please note that there are certain Alert Levels in New Zealand that require the mandatory use of a face mask in certain situations. More information on this can be found here.
Which masks are effective against COVID-19?
There are variations of masks that can be accessed by the public in New Zealand. These masks commonly fit into the categories of either a ‘medical mask’ or ‘non-medical mask’.
Medical face masks
The WHO defines medical masks as being rectangular in shape and containing three or four layers, each consisting of fine fibres. Medical masks must be able to block droplets while also being breathable for the wearer. Medical masks are traditionally and most commonly used by medical professionals in healthcare and aged care settings however their ease of accessibility, especially here in NZ, has made them popular amongst the public. They can also be purchased in bulk, which is another advantage.
Non-medical face masks
The WHO defines non-medical masks as neither a medical device nor personal protective equipment (PPE). Non-medical masks or ‘fabric masks’ can be made from a variety of different fabrics. There are an abundance of free templates available online now for people to create their own fabric masks at home and many small and local businesses have taken to making and selling their own face masks. If producing your own fabric face masks remember that:
- Masks shouldn’t be made of an elastic material.
- A minimum of three layers is required for non-medical masks.
- Masks should fit closely over the nose, cheeks and chin of the wearer.
- Masks should be washed frequently and discarded if they look noticeably worn out.
It’s important to note that no matter whether you wear a fabric or a medical mask, it’s imperative that you make sure you’re wearing a face covering correctly. The WHO have put together the following video which summarises how to wear a fabric face mask safely – most of these guidelines can also be applied to medical masks.
Where can you buy face masks in NZ?
Face masks have become so popular that you can buy them almost anywhere in New Zealand. From your local supermarket or fruit and vegetable grocer, right through to chain and designer clothing stores. Simply Google ‘buy face masks nz’ and you will get pages upon pages of search results.
Here at Primepac, we stock a range of different medical face masks and Kn95 masks that can be purchased online.
Medical face masks
These disposable 3 ply surgical masks have a high filtration efficacy and are also fluid resistant. These masks come in a pack of 50 and have type II R Mask (EN14683) certification.
Shop medical masks here >
3 ply face masks
These 3 ply face masks come in bulk packs of 50 and are handy to have on hand, especially for things like public transport or instances where social distancing cannot be done easily.
Shop 3 ply masks here >
Kn95 masks have traditionally been worn in industrial settings only. Made to be tight-fitting, these masks are popular on building and construction sites as they reduce the wearer’s exposure to small particle aerosols as well as large droplets. Kn95 masks will filter out at least 95% of airborne particles which makes them a popular option for people that work in healthcare settings too.
Shop Kn95 masks here >
We hope that this blog has provided a good overview of how masks can be used to minimise the spread of COVID-19, and given you a good idea of the range of different masks available to purchase in NZ.
For more information on the masks available from Primepac feel free to get in touch with our team here. If you would like to view more of the range of PPE items available such as hand sanitisers and gloves, please check out our PPE product page here.