One popular way that people are preparing to protect themselves from the Coronavirus is to wear face masks. What are they and where can you buy the Coronavirus face masks?
The Coronavirus is a highly infectious viral outbreak that spreads from person to person in the same way that the common cold and influenza does, via respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. It has been classed as pandemic by the World Health Orgainsation (WHO), and is also known as Covid-19.
What is a face mask?
A face mask may help to limit the transmission of respiratory droplets from one to another. The wearing of masks for Coronavirus is not recommended for everyone, mainly for people who are caring or looking after those who have the virus. Technically masks that are designed to protect people from viral and bacterial infections are called respirators, but in the case of the Coronavirus pandemic people are calling them masks.
The most common type of surgical mask is called the N95 Healthcare BioAerosol Respirator 1860, and is made by a company called 3M. According to the 3M website it is:
- NIOSH certified N95
- Meets CDC guidelines for Mycobacterium tuberculosis exposure control
- FDA cleared for use as a surgical mask
- Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) > 99% according to ASTM F2101
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Where can I buy a Coronavirus face mask?
There are many shops online that sell face masks.
1. Alibaba.com & AliExpress.com
They have an extensive list of face masks, some that are called N95 or that have names that are similar. Many also claim to be 95% effective against bacterial infection. In these times it would be very hard to believe that all he masks here are legitimate and will protect you with the same level of protection that a 3M N95 mask will. Some of these masks may well be fake and dangerous to wear if you believe that you have adequate protection.
Prices vary for each item.
Amazon also have many face masks listed on their platform. Some look and claim to be genuine surgical masks with proper filtration, others are masks designed for cyclists and walkers who don’t want to breath traffic fumes.
It is very difficult to say which of these are legitimate.
3. Medical Supplies shops.
The obvious place to buy a genuine medical face masks is from a medical supplier. A quick search shows that most that appear on Google are out of stock, such is the demand, at this time for masks.
If you visit the 3M website, they do have distributor lists next to each product. A distributor list is available for the N95 masks for most countries. I tried for the USA and NZ, nothing showed for NZ, but there is a list of about 18 shops that official sell the N95 mask in the US.
Here is the list of authorised 3M distributors for the N95 mask in the USA.
Each country will have a different list of official distributors, so it would be worth checking out yours from the official website and page for 3M N95 masks. Visit the website and select your country, if you are prompted to do so.
Of course, just because these retailers sell face masks does not mean you should necessarily buy or wear one, unless you absolutely have to. Buying them, or even hoarding them, may mean that there are less for health professionals and others who will need one, so bear that in mind if choosing to purchase one online.