KOCHI: With Covid cases still on the rise, some doctors have proposed the concept of double masking in public places. Since the use of cotton and designer masks has become common, wearing surgical masks underneath regular masks could help create a more effective barrier, doctors say. Many countries, especially the US, encourages double masking to offer added protection from the coronavirus.
“During the initial phase, many people preferred to wear N95 masks in public places. The trend has evolved since then, with people now seen wearing masks matching their attire. It is understandable that the need for masks has been adapted well into a fashion trend. When attending social functions, people would prefer wearing coloured cotton masks rather than surgical masks. There is nothing wrong with that, but donning surgical masks underneath would make this more effective,” said Dr Monu Varghese, a Kochi-based pulmonologist.
According to Ravikrishnan K, owner of Biomart, the demand for cotton and designer masks has risen steeply in the state. “I shifted to manufacturing masks last April. Over the past year, people’s preferences have changed. Initially, there was demand only for surgical masks and N95 masks in both wholesale and retail markets. Now, I get several orders for coloured cotton masks. We also customise masks according to the customer’s preference,” he said.
Experts are also worried that the vaccines in use may not offer uniform protection against all coronavirus strains, especially with new strains discovered being more infectious. “We need to understand that in addition to the material, the layers and fit of the mask make it effective. So use masks with at least three layers (or go for double masking) and a head loop that can be adjusted for a tight fit. Cloth masks are reusable, easily washed and disinfected. Using multiple, well-fitted cloth masks offers more protection,” said Dr Anup R Warrier, infectious disease expert.
A recent study published in the journal Med reveals that wearing a surgical mask under a cloth mask offers better protection due to an extra layer of filtration. “With loose-fitting masks, people have to touch them repeatedly to adjust their fit, which is not a good trend,” Dr Monu said.