What Is The Best Face Mask Protection Against Coronavirus Infection?

Wash your hands for 15 minutes, no 20 minutes. Drink lukewarm water or is it cold water? Can you hold your breath without coughing? Does that mean you are not infected? 


There are so many myths, advice and precautions flying around the internet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! We bring you just the correct facts, to help you survive the pandemic with the best information.


In this post, we will discuss the different types of face masks. Explain the different masks available and describe who they are intended for.


Why should you wear a face mask?

Go anywhere in South Africa at the moment and you will quickly see the diverse opinions on the subject. Some people even wear masks while driving alone in their car while others wear no mask at all. 

The World Health Organisation describes the virus as “..a large family of viruses which may cause illness..Several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19

Face masks’ primary use is to keep bodily fluid from coming in contact with another person. Because the “virus is found in the nose and throat section”, especially during the incubation stage. Wearing one can help “prevent hand to mouth transmission”. And spreading the disease to others.

Types of masks to prevent Covid-19: 

The CDC and WHO has recommended wearing three main types of masks available. Surgical face mask and N95 respirator and hand-make cloth masks that can either be made at home or ordered online. At the bottom of this article, we also explain other types of mask. These options have not been mentioned by the government or WHO.

For Medical Professionals and health workers:



  • N95: these masks are so-called because of their robust hindrance of 95% of particles. This is the only type available, certified and tested, that if correctly worn, can prevent airborne infection from invading the body.
Who should use the: It is extremely important to understand that these specialised respirators should be reserved for first and foremost for medical professionals and those working in health care. These individuals are dealing with infected individuals and/or entering high-risk areas on a daily basis.

General Public



  • Medical/surgical masks: this mask cannot prevent airborne transmission. But as we mentioned earlier they can still keep you protected from physical transmission. When someone infected or carrying the Covid-19 virus coughs or sneezes they can transmit the disease to another person. 

  • Cloth face masks: these are hand-made masks. There is a scarcity of surgical masks and we MUST reserve N95 masks for people who are in direct contact with patients. Cloth or material masks are a viable option for protection. The CDC has also vouched for these masks as alternatives to slow the spread of the virus. These masks limit the spread of the virus by stopping body fluids from spreading from one person to another.

General Public – Other Types

These are alternative options to the above mentioned. Keep in mind that these masks come in standard sizes and will not fit children.

  • Dust masks/ FPF 2: industrial masks sold at hardware stores like Builders Warehouse. Typically used when working construction. These masks are made to keep fine dust and fibres from being inhaled. But during the pandemic, they can help keep away fluid transmission from others away as well as keep you from transmitting the virus from your hands to your mouth. They are available with an extra built-in breathing valve and without. The valve simply helps make breathing, while wearing the masks, more comfortable.

  • Balboa Half Mask Respirator: like the dust mask these masks are intended for industrial use. You will see workers wearing them when they are handling dangerous chemicals. They are not designed to filter air particles like the N95 masks but can again help physical transmission. 

  • Buffs and scarfs: A buff is a piece of clothing that is looped to fit over your head or mouth. They are multipurpose and typically are worn by athletes like cyclists to keep dust away from their hair or keep their face warm in cold weather. Again they can help with the transmission but they do not have the same effect as FDA approved masks like the N95.

Understanding what type of mask to buy is only half of the work down. Now you need to know how to properly apply the mask.



Proper application and use of face masks:

  • According to new regulations face masks must now be worn whenever you are in public. But this does not mean that you should not still try to stay at least 6 feet away from others. 

  • When you put the mask on, make sure that it fits properly and securely over your nose, mouth and chin. Do not let it hang loose at the bottom or top.

  • Once you put the mask on do not touch it again until you can sanitise your hands and safely remove it. 

  • Once you take the mask off, wash it before wearing it again. See our reuse guidelines here.

  • Never take off the mask and have it touch a surface area when you are in public. Wait until you are home to put your mask straight in the washing machine. 

Want to know more about how effective cloth face masks are? See our ultimate guide here.

Last Updated: April 24, 2020

Buy face masks here.