The two basic functions of a mask are to protect ourself and to protect others.

1) Surgical / 3 ply mask has 3 layers and protect from large droplets 0.5 to 5 microns released when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. These are single use and need to be discarded after 8 hrs.

2) N 95 mask has 5 layers that protects against 95% microorganisms and smaller aerosol droplets upto 0.3 microns. N95 with valve is not recommended as it releases covid virus when an asymtomatic person exhales, but can transmit infection to others.

3) Cloth masks have two to three layers and can be washed after 8 hours and are resuable.

The most important thing to be seen in a mask while buying a mask is:

A) BFE means bacterial filtration efficiency which should be 95% or more

B) Next FFP should be checked - Filtering face piece. It's of 3 types:

  • FFP1 filters 88 to 90 percent microorganisms
  • FFP 2 filters 95%
  • FFP 3 filters around 99% 

4) Above all you can also use a cloth handkerchief with fold of two layers and wash after 8 hours.

5) Don't see the design of mask and treat it as an accessory but note these important points in mind while buying a mask.

6) Usually frontline covid warriors use N95 with FFP 2 without a valve which is ideal. However, the remaning types of masks can be used by common man on a daily basis.

Always wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use a sanitizer with 60% Isopropyl alcohol before wearing a mask and handle a mask with its threads, not with its body. Before discarding a mask, disinfect it with 1% sodium hypoclorite. 

Plz see important things while buying a mask whether it is NIOSH / European standards approved and not the design or colour of the mask. Don't treat mask as an accessory. Its a very important device to protect you from the covid pandemic.