What is double masking, and how is it more effective in the COVID-19 second wave?

With the rise of the COVID-19 second wave, double masking is proving to be an effective way to block micro-particles and keep you safe.

The second wave of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has so far seen over 145 million positive cases worldwide, registering about three million deaths.

In these trying times, it becomes imperative to follow safe hygiene practices, such as sanitising and wearing a mask before stepping out, and social distancing norms religiously.

But how effective are masks in blocking the virus?

According to a study by United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), wearing a mask that can tightly fit your face is effective against the prevention of the coronavirus.

In fact, while an unknotted surgical mask was proven to block 56.1 percent of the particles from a simulated cough, a cloth mask alone blocked about 51.4 percent. The combination of a knotted and tucked surgical mask and a cloth mask — called double maskingblocked about 85.4 percent of the particles.

Image: Shutterstock

Here are a few tips for double masking that ensures more safety:

  • Among the two masks, one mask should be a surgical mask, and the other one, a cloth mask. Using the same combination of the masks (two surgical or two cloth masks) will not be effective.
  • The surgical mask has to be knotted at the loops and the extra material should be tucked in after the loops are placed over the ears. This ensures a more snug fit and limited entry of particles.
  • The cloth mask has to be placed above the surgical mask, and it must be ensured that you can breathe comfortably using the combination.
  • While it may not be as easy to breathe, it is proven that double masking allows oxygen flow without any problem.

  • How to ensure it fits? Breathe through the combination, if your mask presses in while inhaling, the fit is good. Similarly, while exhaling, if your glasses get fogged or if the air hits your eyes, it means the air is escaping.
  • Discard the surgical masks if they visibly seem soiled or have been used too many times. Do not wash and reuse them, unlike cloth masks.
  • While this combination is efficient, do not try it with an N-95 mask. These masks are more effective and can be used without double masking.
Edited by Suman Singh


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