Face masks and public health


Sir, – John O’Connor (Letters, November 10th) criticises Conor Pope for writing an article about the effectiveness of different masks in protecting the wearer against Covid-19 (“Face masks: Which are best and which are best avoided?”, Health, November 7th).

Mr O’Connor’s assumption that people wear masks to protect other people is correct, but many of us also wear masks to protect ourselves too. Almost any face covering will inhibit transmission of Covid-19 to other people to some extent, although the effectiveness will vary greatly depending on how the mask is made, fitted and worn.

Many masks, again depending on how they are made, fitted and worn, will also provide a degree of protection for the wearer. The gold standard mask, however, such as N95, KN95 and FFP2, is designed to protect against viruses, among other contaminants. That is why health service personnel and other frontline staff wear these types of mask.

As an older person, I wear an N95 or similar in situations of higher risk, such as a doctor’s surgery, a hospital, public transport, or any place that I perceive as higher risk. Other people who may be vulnerable should do the same.

Given the potentially serious consequences for vulnerable people in the event of contracting Covid-19, it makes sense to reduce the risk as much as possible.

If not in a high-risk situation, I am happy enough to wear a light surgical mask, which will protect others from me and will afford me a certain degree of protection.

If it’s good enough for German chancellor Angela Merkel to wear an N95 mask, it’s good enough for me. You never see her wearing anything less effective, unlike many of her fellow leaders. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 2.