1. Should children be provided with N95 masks?
In the spring of 2021, the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carried out a study to compare the duration of transmission of the virus between an infected person and an uninfected person, taking into account whether one or the other portrait or not a mask, and if so, which one.
The findings ofCDC left no doubt: the N95 is the best mask in terms of protection.
A recent publication by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), however, brings some nuances, specifying that, in real work contexts, N95 and medical masks have equivalent properties and that scientific knowledge does not allow us to demonstrate that one is superior to the other.
According to the microbiologist and professor at the Cégep de l’Outaouais Patrick Fillion, if the N95 does indeed offer the best protection, it should not necessarily be distributed in schools.
An N95 mask should be adjusted to fit the shape of the face well and should be tested for each person. It is practically impossible to do this for everyone, especially for children.
As a result, for students, Patrick Fillion recommends surgical masks, the effectiveness of which is well established. […]If N95 masks are misused, it’s a waste”,”text”:”Well worn, they hopefully offer sufficient protection. […]If N95 masks are misused, it’s a waste”}}’>Properly worn, they provide hopefully sufficient protection. […] If N95 masks are misused, it’s wasteful.
” An ill-fitting N95 mask is like buying four new tires for your car, but not inflating the tires. »
Virologist at Montfort Hospital in Ottawa, Dr. Hugues Loemba shares the same position:
A misplaced N95 will have the opposite effect. Instead of the child wearing the mask properly, they will put it below their nose and be exposed. Better if the child has a comfortable mask.
2. Should we put our cloth masks in the closet?
In Quebec, the government provides surgical masks to its students and staff.
Despite warning signs from specialists, Ontario has chosen to provide its students with three-ply cloth face coverings. But unlike in Quebec, teachers and other staff in Ontario will be issued an N95 mask without a fit test.
For its part, Ottawa Public Health says it follows provincial recommendations.
Wearing a cloth mask helps prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and protect those around us.
The comparison ofCDC however, leaves no ambiguity: fabric masks are the least effective. Moreover, since the arrival of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which has led to a dizzying increase in infections, many experts no longer recommend cloth face coverings.
” [Le masque en tissu] is no longer sufficient. With Omicron, which is so transmissible and contagious, we have to take all our measures up a notch, including the mask. »
According to Patrick Fillion,
the fabric mask is a minimum protection to protect against large droplets. It’s not [une protection] equivalent to a surgical procedure mask.
The microbiologist recalls that last fall, when the Delta variant was raging, it was already recommended in schools to prioritize the surgical mask.
With Omicron, we may be implanting it even more so that everyone has adequate protection.
For better protection, Dr. Loemba suggests opting for two surgical masks, or even using a fabric mask over a surgical mask. Patrick Fillion is not against the idea, but for a short time to avoid feeling discomfort:
One cannot be against virtue. It will limit, even more, that the virus reaches the respiratory tract, but before getting there, it would be important to wear the mask that we must wear.
3. Should the choice of mask in our schools be determined based on the vaccination coverage of this age group?
To this question, Patrick Fillion answers categorically:
They are two completely different things. They should not be mixed.
Someone could be vaccinated and not wear their mask below their nose. Another might not be vaccinated and wear their mask correctly, so double vaccination would not protect [contre] the transmission of the virus, he illustrated.
Currently, children under the age of 5 still cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The majority of children aged 5 to 11 have received one dose, while adolescents aged 12 to 17 are, for the most part, doubly vaccinated.
” The mask protects the mucous membranes to prevent the virus from entering the respiratory tract. The vaccine protects people against infection. »
Dr. Hugues Loemba shares the same opinion as the professor at Cégep de l’Outaouais:
The choice of mask should correspond to the epidemiological situation. If it wasn’t for Omicron, who invaded the community, we wouldn’t even be talking about it!