Double mask, add a filter: How to upgrade your PPE game without breaking the bank – National

Searching Amazon, department stores and your local group chat for mass deals on N95 respirators is not the only effective way to disguise yourself during the ongoing Omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although respirators such as the N95 or KN95 models have emerged as top picks among epidemiologists due to their secure fit and effective filters, they have also become difficult to find and can be sold for at least a few dollars per day. maybe.

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Are you confused about masking yourself against Omicron? Here is a guide

But for agreement hunters and parents in Ontario who want to keep their children safe before returning to the classroom, there are other options to reduce the risk of COVID transmission, recommended by the Canadian Public Health Agency (PHAC) and medical experts – them . which may not break the bank.

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Add a triple layer filter

The fabric masks that most Canadians have accumulated over the last 21 months of the pandemic are not useless – they may just need an extra layer or two.

Whether homemade or purchased at the store, masks made from at least two layers of tightly woven fabric like cotton can be effective in reducing transmission, but should ideally have a pocket in the middle of the layers to add a filter, PHAC recommends.

You can buy filters for masks separately or make your own at home from filter cloth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on when to replace these filters, and most recommendations indicate that the frequency of replacement is weekly.

Click to play video: 'Clothes masks vs.  Omicron '

Dust masks vs. Omicron

Dust masks vs. Omicron – December 20, 2021

Experts such as Dr. Peter Juni, head of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, has said that single-layer fabric masks are no longer considered effective in reducing infection due to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

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“The problem here is that if you have a single layer, the ability to filter is absolutely minimal and makes no difference,” he said last month.

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Your children’s old masks may not need to go in the bin if you are handy with a needle and thread, says Dr. Anna Banerji, a pediatric expert in infectious diseases at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

But unless you can add an extra layer of fabric with that filter pocket, she agrees that the loose-fitting, single-layer options are sadly outdated for the 2022 classroom.

“The single-layer masks that look cute, that just do not give a good fit unless you change them, they are probably not very useful anymore,” she tells Global News.

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So what is often important is not only the filter, but the fit: A loose-fitting mask, such as a disposable mask, could let air out – or in – through the sides or top of the mask, says Dr. Banners.

Surgical-style disposable masks are generally easy to buy in bulk and can still be effective if a fabric mask is placed on top to seal the holes.

“The most important part is not necessarily the extra layers, that much. The most important part is that it tightens better around my face, “said epidemiologist Dr. Cynthia Carr to Global News in a recent demonstration.

Click to play video: 'Epidemiologist on KN95 masks'

Epidemiologist on KN95 masks

Epidemiologist on KN95 masks – 23 December 2021

“A surgical mask that covers the nose and mouth, which has a snug fit with a good quality fabric mask on top, could be a very reasonable option,” says Dr. Banerji for children going back to school.

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PHAC offers a few other tips to improve the fit of masks with some home adjustments.

If stitches with ear straps do not have adjustable clips built in to tighten the fit, a wearer can tie knots in the string itself to help close any holes around the cheeks.

Similarly, if a mask does not have a brace along the nose, plastic or metal clips or braces can be purchased separately and placed on top of the mask to prevent particles from escaping through the top.

Should children wear N95 masks?

Dr. Banerji says the question of which masks are right for students going back to school is often a matter of “resources” where many parents are unlikely to be able to buy N95 respirators for their children.

PHAC notes on its website that respirators for children are harder to find.

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But even though they are available, comfort is paramount, she says. A poorly fitting N95 or KN95 that a child needs to adjust regularly during the day is not necessarily the right choice to keep them safe.

“You want a snug fit that is comfortable that the kids are willing to wear most of the day. So if you have N95s and they sit poorly or they are uncomfortable, then kids may not wear it,” he says. she says.

Dr. Gerald Evans, an expert in infectious diseases at Queen’s University, even told Global News last month that seeking out an N95 respirator over a regular medical-grade mask might not be worth much if it has not been properly fit-tested. .

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“If you have a lot of money and you can afford an N95 mask or one of the equivalent, go ahead and buy them,” he said. “But if you can, get a medical mask – they are not very expensive … and if you can not afford it, but you have some good fabric masks, then use them, do not forget to clean them and think safely about double masking , if you think it’s appropriate. ”

PHAC still recommends medical grade masks in situations where someone has tested positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is particularly vulnerable to exposure or complications from the disease.

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For parents who still feel stressed about coming back to school, says Dr. Banerji that it is normal to be concerned about safety during the Omicron wave, but adds that the best protection for children is vaccination.

“I think it’s challenging for everyone. There is no perfect answer to the situation, “she said.

“Everyone wants to send their children back without risk, but in this situation there is no such thing. I think the best, safest thing parents can do is to get their children vaccinated, because even if they are exposed, so “they are vaccinated. They are not going to have such a serious illness.”

– with files from Global’s David Lao, Keesha Harewood

Click to play video: 'Alberta parent expresses frustration over bagged, ill-fitting medical masks sent home with students'

Alberta parent expresses frustration over bagged, ill-fitting medical masks sent home with students

Alberta parent expresses frustration over bagged, ill-fitting medical masks sent home with students

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