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Confused about masking up against Omicron? Here’s a guide

Click to play video: 'Epidemiologist on KN95 masks' Epidemiologist on KN95 masks
Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr gives us a mask breakdown. A look at the KN95 mask and why it's much more effective than others – Dec 23, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to evolve, so does masking up.

To remedy any confusion that might be surfacing around masks as the Omicron variant circulates, here’s a run-through of the different types available, how to use them correctly and where to find them.

Homemade cloth mask:

Homemade face masks. Getty Images
  • Ineffective if worn as a single layer.
  • If nothing else is available, Health Canada recommends they be worn as two tightly woven cloth layers with a filter between.
  • Ensure mask has a snug fit.
  • Wash hands before and after adjusting the mask, putting it on and taking it off.
  • Store in a clean paper or cloth bag between uses.
  • Wash in soapy water after each use.
  • Dispose of the filter layer after each use.
  • Available commercially.

Read more: Single-layer cloth masks not effective against Omicron, says Ontario science advisory table director

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Medical mask:

Medical masks. Getty Images
  • Somewhat effective on their own, but gaps on the side of the mask don’t provide the best seal.
  • Best worn with a cloth mask over top for proper fit.
  • Wash hands before and after adjusting the mask, putting it on and taking it off.
  • Store in a clean paper or cloth bag between uses.
  • Typically single-use, but can be reused until visibly damaged, dirty or damp.
  • Available commercially.

Read more: COVID-19 — B.C. parents, teachers anxious as kids head back to school amid Omicron wave

KN95 mask:

KN95 mask. Shane Gibson/Global News
  • Effective due to the fit and filtering capabilities.
  • Highly similar to the N95 respirator; the main difference between the two is the manufacturer.
  • Wash hands before and after adjusting the mask, putting it on and taking it off.
  • Store in a clean paper or cloth bag between uses.
  • Can be reused until visibly damaged, dirty or damp.
  • As of now, difficult to find in Winnipeg.

Read more: COVID-19 — Trying to find a KN95 mask, Winnipeg? Prepare to come up empty-handed

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N95 respirator:

N-95 mask. The Canadian Press
  • Effective due to the fit and filtering capabilities.
  • Highly similar to the KN95 mask; the main difference between the two is the manufacturer.
  • Wash hands before and after adjusting the mask, putting it on and taking it off.
  • Store in a clean paper or cloth bag between uses.
  • Can be reused until visibly damaged, dirty or damp.
  • As of now, difficult to find in Winnipeg.

— with files from David Lao and Don Mitchell

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