Wearing a mask vastly reduces the risk of contracting COVID-19, but wearing two masks is even better, and more so if done by more people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC in the US.
The CDC said that the risk of transmission could be reduced by up to 96.5% if both an uninfected person and an infected person wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask for a tighter fit.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave the double mask recommendation during the White House coronavirus briefing.
“With cases, hospitalizations and deaths still very high, now is not the time to roll back mask requirements,” she said. “The bottom line is this: Masks work, and they work when they have a good fit and are worn correctly.”
The CDC has also updated its mask guidelines today in light of the new findings.
When layering, the CDC said to use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric over a disposable mask.
The CDC, however, cautioned against using two disposable masks on top of another as doing so will not improve the fit. A KN95 mask should also not be worn with other masks. The KN95 already has a strong filter on its own to ward off particles, and as such may be difficult to use for extended periods of time as it could be hard to breathe wearing one.
In the Philippines, the standing requirement of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is to wear a face shield together with a face mask.
IATF Technical Group member Dr. Edsel Salvana was cool to the CDC's two-maks recommendation.
"I think mask plus faceshield is enough. But people can use two if they want but they still need to use face shields," said Salvana.
Former IATF adviser Dr. Anthony Leachon, meanwhile, said that he supports the use of double masks, as he himself also uses it in his medical practice.
“The only way to fully protect ourselves is to double up the mask to also compensate for the loss in social distancing as the economy reopens,” said Leachon. “If you protect yourself, then you protect your family and colleagues as well while waiting for more people to get vaccinated.