Experts recommend mask upgrades due to Omicron

Experts recommend mask upgrades due to Omicron 90% NOW PLAYINGThe new COVID-19 variant has experts recommending better masks with a strong seal. CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson reports.02:01

Experts recommend better masks due to Omicron

UP NEXTExperts are advising people to get better masks as Omicron circulates.00:56

Better masks needed: experts

“Omicron is extremely contagious,” said Toronto emergency physician Dr. Kashif Pirzada. “It’s at the level of measles…it was very similar, you walk into a room with someone with measles [and] the whole room gets infected.”

“The best protection you can get is a high quality mask, like an N95 mask.”


Dr. Pirzada recalled his days as a medical student in Toronto in 2003, during the SARS epidemic. He said when healthcare workers switched to N95 masks, transmission of that virus completely stopped.

N95 and other higher grade masks not only mold more closely to the face, they filter up to 95 per cent of particles. According to Pirzada, this makes it very unlikely you’ll be exposed to a viral load high enough to get infected.

“If I were to go into any indoor space like a shopping mall or a workplace, I wouldn’t do it unless I was wearing one of these masks,” he said.

“Unless you want to be shivering under a blanket for the holiday season.”

If you are unable to get your hands on an N95 mask right away, Pirzada recommended doubling up on surgical masks and using medical tape to close the gaps where air can get in and out.

He also suggested making sure any mask you do purchase is from a company authorized by Health Canada.

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