The United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday raised concerns that cloth masks that popularly replaced medical-grade surgical and N95 masks through the course of the pandemic may not provide enough protection against the coronavirus disease.
Although a known factor to the public, cloth masks became increasingly popular across the world due to their reusability. Until now, the CDC had not explicitly addressed any difference between a regular cloth mask and protective N95 respirators.
However, with more contagious strains like Omicron continuing to soar, experts have now urged the CDC to recommend N95 masks for all citizens.
What is the new recommendation by the CDC?
According to a report by The New York Times, in its previous version of the recommendations, the CDC had said individuals may choose to use a disposable N95 respirator instead of a mask "when supplies are available".
The agency has now recommended all Americans to "wear the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently".
Covid-19 has been spreading like a wildfire across the US and world, especially with the surge of Omicron, which targets the upper airways and has spread at least twice as quickly as Delta.
"Our main message continues to be that any mask is better than no mask," said Kristen Nordlund, a CDC spokeswoman, in a statement.
However, the CDC has relaxed Covid-19 guidelines and reduced the isolation period for those infected to five days, provided their symptoms stop and if they wear masks in public for another five days.
Masks are still recommended by the agency for people aged two years and older, regardless of vaccination status and indoor public spaces.