The United States calls for the use of the N95 mask to prevent the spread of Omicron

New York: U.S. health officials on Friday urged more Americans to wear the kind of N95 or KN95 masks used by health professionals to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Such masks are considered to be better at filtering the air. But they were in short supply in the past, and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had said they should be prioritized by health professionals.

A registered nurse wears an N95 mask.

A registered nurse wears an N95 mask.Credit:AP

In an updated guide issued on Saturday AEST, CDC officials removed concerns related to supply shortages and said more clearly that properly fitted N95 and KN95 masks provide the most protection.

However, agency officials noted that some masks are harder to tolerate than others, urging people to choose well-fitting masks that they will wear consistently.

“Our main message remains that any mask is better than no mask,” Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC, said in a statement.

The CDC has developed its mask guide throughout the pandemic.

A nurse puts on a new N95 mask.

A nurse puts on a new N95 mask.Credit:AP

In its latest update, in September, CDC officials became more encouraging about disposable N95 masks, saying they could be used in certain situations if supplies were available. Examples included being near many people for extended periods on a train, bus, or plane; take care of a person in poor health; or be more susceptible to serious illness.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that his administration planned to make “high-quality masks,” including N95s, available free of charge. He said more details would come next week. The federal government has a stockpile of more than 750 million N95 masks, the White House said.

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