It’s time to switch to an N95 mask in the battle against Omicron

Kross Direct Facemask

A doctor wears goggles and an N95 mask during a drive through COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Kingston, Ont., Dec. 18, 2021. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

It’s easier for the virus to move through surgical or cloth masks, experts say, while respirators filter tiny aerosols

On Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, quietly arrived at the “Jabapalooza” vaccine clinic in her Ottawa neighbourhood to get her third dose. Noticeably, she was wearing a white respirator mask in the indoor public space, something she emphasized the next day as she swapped her old Twitter profile photo featuring her in a surgical mask for one taken at that community-run clinic. She tweeted: “If you’re like me there is so much to do in a day that you haven’t updated your profile pic in some time, but in real life you’ve upped your mask game and practice #COVIDWise 24/7 because #omicron.” 

Tam is one of a growing number of health care professionals who are using their social media profile pictures to send a message that N95-quality respirator masks have become an essential part of personal protection against COVID-19 for everyone, not only for those working in high-risk settings such as hospitals. Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering updating its own mask guidance to recommend the public wear N95-quality masks, the Washington Post reports. 

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