There are basically two types of virus masks available:

1. Medical or surgical masks: These are loose-fitting, made of soft, thin cloth and tie behind the head.

2. N95 respirators: These form-fitting masks are made of spun plastic fibers capable of filtering minute particles.

If you’re thinking of buying a mask, we recommend the N95. This respirator was proved by a study published in The Lancet journal to have provided Hong Kong hospital patients — during the SARS outbreak – 13 times more protection than not wearing a mask at all. Of course, a lot also depends on the consistency with which the mask is used and whether or not both the mouth and the nose are covered properly.

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People who are at high risk should waste no time in buying the N95 respirators. There are a lot of different N95 masks for sale on the internet. These include children below five years of age, adults over 65 years of age, those admitted in nursing homes and other such facilities, all individuals currently on aspirin therapy, those suffering from chronic illnesses, individuals with inadequate immune systems, pregnant women and those taking care of individuals infected by the virus.

These masks work by creating a physical barrier between you and the surrounding air which might have been infused by virus particles through the coughs and sneezes of infected individuals. They work in the same way to protect you from an infected individual in close proximity. Washing your hands regularly and keeping them away from your eyes, mouth and nose also help.

And important point to keep in mind is that these masks are of the disposable variety and should be discarded after one use.

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