PHE say a multi-layered mask is more effective than a single-layered mask, but this is different to double masking (Picture: Getty)
It’s since been touted as being a bit of a trend, with many wondering if wearing two masks is better than one.
Public Health England (PHE) officially told Metro.co.uk: ‘Research suggests that multi-layered face coverings are more effective than single-layer, but we are not aware of any evidence that wearing two face coverings is more effective than one.’
Despite the caution seen by those attending the historic ceremony, according to PHE it would have been just as useful for those wearing to masks to wear one mask instead with an extra layer inside, such as a filter.
Filtered masks are proven to be more effective than unfiltered ones, but only if the filter is regularly changed and kept hygienic.
Double masking was spotted at Joe Biden’s inauguration
Jade Pallett, microbiologist at ZOONO, says she sees the logic in double masking.
‘Given that the primary purpose of a mask is to act as a filter to particles in the air (including microbes), adding a secondary mask layer is likely to only add further protection – increasing the number of barriers in turn increases the level of protection,’ she explains.
‘It has also been noted that additional benefit may come from two masks ensuring that the gaps around a singular mask are covered.’
Some medical bodies have endorsed double masking, but the reality is, it’s such a new idea that there aren’t enough studies to prove it’s worthwhile (yet).
Jade recently read of a small study that found ‘a two-mask sandwich gave a greater level of protection when higher-functioning masks are not available’, but the paper hasn’t been peer reviewed so it can’t be used give clinical advice.
We might, however, see more data come out on this given the attention double masking has quickly received and the ongoing work to fight the spread of coronavirus.
For now, Jade says: ‘It has been found that two layers of heavyweight quilters cotton with a minimum thread count of 180 (with a tight, thick weave) are the most efficient cloth face coverings.’
Regardless of how you mask, regularly washing reusable masks and replacing disposable masks is essential in ensuring your mask is effective.
Dr Natasha Larmie advises that you cover both your mouth and nose, as per government guidelines, when wearing your mask.
She adds: ‘The best you can do is keep as wide a distance from people as possible, and prevent microscopic respiratory droplets from coming into contact with your nose and mouth.
‘Always wash your hands. I cannot stress how important good hand hygiene is’ – she believes it would be far more beneficial than double masking.
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