Image: imago images / Future Image
Which mask protects how against Corona – and which one doesn’t? That’s what virologist Streeck says
It is confusing: First, it says that masks do not protect against infection with the corona virus. Then suddenly: Masks are helpful. But not every kind of mask. And then they often protect not yourself, but others. On top of that, one of Germany’s leading virologists, Christian Drosten, suddenly speaks of the fact that self-made masks would also be effective.
The information about masks against Corona seems to be overturning. The fact that Jena is the first city in Germany to introduce a mask requirement for supermarkets and local public transport, but the rest of Germany does not want to go along with this, could unsettle one or the other.
So what is the sense or nonsense of masks? What are the different types and do they all protect everyone equally well? Virologist Hendrik Streeck from the University Hospital Bonn answers these questions at “Stern TV” on RTL.
We do not start with the conventional masks, but with a kind of face mask, which is definitely not advisable, but which was actually in circulation recently as an idea.
You should not use this type of mask
Image: imago images / Frank Sorge
No joke: A dentist recently posted a video on Twitter in which he recommended that a protective mask be made from a coffee filter and rubber.
Streeck is skeptical about this rather creative attempt: The material is too thin and wet too quickly. Everyone who has ever made a filter coffee at home and then tried to bring the full, wet filter mess-free from the coffee machine to the trash can knows that.
That’s why Streeck concludes: Coffee filters are not suitable as protective masks. Incidentally, the dentist who originally had the idea has already deleted the video. And before you come up with any more wild ideas, which materials can still be recycled for masks: It’s best to just stick to the good old fabric masks. You can also wash them regularly in the washing machine (preferably at 60 degrees) and reuse them.
Now to the masks that have an actual benefit, even if they are different.
This mask protects youwhen you wear them
Image: imago images / Eibner
If you wear a particle-filtering half mask, or FFP for short, it filters the air you breathe in. Streeck explains that the material is very strong, so no viruses get into your body when inhaled. The exhaled air escapes through the small valve in the middle – but unfiltered.
The FFP masks come in three strengths. Medical personnel should wear types 2 or 3, the program says. A disadvantage of these masks, by the way, is that it is quite difficult to breathe through them, as Streeck says:
Important: Please steer clear of these masks, unless you are working directly with corona patients. The stocks for these masks are scarce. Although new masks for hospitals have already been reordered in large quantities, bottlenecks and delays in delivery must be expected.
Therefore, please do not buy these masks if you do not need them, but instead follow the rules: Avoid social contacts, keep at least one and a half meters from other people, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. This is usually enough in everyday life to protect yourself against infection with Corona.
This mask protects otherwhen you wear them
Image: imago images / Westend61
The mouth-nose protection mask (MNS) is the classic surgical mask, as it is also used by medical professionals. It is made of a multi-layer fleece material, explains Streeck, and can be fixed with ribbons behind the ears.
This mask does not protect you from being infected with the corona virus. However, you can prevent others from becoming infected if you are carrying the virus. By the way, with the corona virus it can happen that you are infected but do not experience any symptoms. You can still infect others – unless you wear this type of mask. It stops droplets that contain viruses that you could spit out when speaking or coughing. “It is also believed that it would curb transmission altogether,” says Streeck of wearing such masks.
Important is: If you wear such a mask, you shouldn’t think you are in the wrong safety. Streeck warns not to forget other safety precautions such as hand washing.
Please leave this type of mask to medical professionals. Streeck also says: “These are protective agents that should be hospitalized first.” Anyone who now works with risk groups such as the elderly or seriously ill must take care not to infect them with the coronavirus. The MNS help with this. If you want to protect yourself with a mask, there is the following option:
Even made masks can also protect people
Recently, celebrities such as Lena Meyer-Landrut, Rezo or Charlotte Roche called for a mask to be worn as part of the #Maskeauf campaign – albeit a hand-made one. But what does a non-professional mask do?
A lot, said virologist Christian Drosten of the Berlin Charité in his NDR podcast “Coronavirus Update”. Because even a self-made mask, an old T-shirt or a simple cloth that you tie around your mouth and nose can withstand the droplets that you could give off when speaking or coughing.
This is how you can protect other people, set a visual sign against Corona and save resources: If you make your mask yourself, there will be more professional masks for healthcare professionals.
Should we all wear a mask against Corona now?
When asked whether a general mask requirement, such as Jena now introduces, makes sense, the virologist Streeck answers with the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) – and the advice to trust institutions of this kind, especially in times like now:
“If the World Health Organization recommends that you do not introduce a mouthguard requirement, it does so for a very good reason. Because there were a lot of experts behind to think about it.”
According to Streeck, not everyone needs to wear a face mask, simply because it has not yet been scientifically proven that such a measure is necessary. However, he adds: “But if someone feels sick and coughs, then it definitely makes sense to wear such respirators.”