The new COVID-19 variant Omicron has been a game changer in terms of how health-care professionals handle the pandemic. Omicron has spread quickly, leaving many people unsure about how to keep themselves and others safe.

Regina infectious diseases specialist Dr. Alex Wong took some time to speak to The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger and answer listener questions.

Is it better to wear a double mask or an N95? And if the N95 is better, why is that not a recommendation from the Saskatchewan Health Authority?

The SHA actually just recently changed guidelines, and are now recommending N95s, in the context of acknowledging that airborne transmission of COVID-19 is actually very real and relevant. In the last couple of weeks, N95s are now recommended for all health-care workers, who are interacting with any COVID positive patients, regardless of the type of interaction.

The bottom line here is that respirators, like N95s or KN95s, or KF94s are better than medical and surgical masks and cloth masks because they filter a lot of what is in the air and what we breathe much, much better, (filtering) 95 per cent plus, compared to medical masks, which are probably between 50 to 70 per cent, and cloth masks, which are even less.

If you have the financial means to do so, upgrading to a respirator for all indoor public interactions is recommended. If you can’t afford or can’t find a respirator mask, then you need to certainly upgrade your cloth mask, at least to some type of a medical or surgical grade mask to improve the amount that’s filtered. Double mask by placing a cloth mask over top of a medical or surgical mask to try to make that fit much tighter and to reduce the amount of leakage.

Especially with Omicron being as contagious and transmissible as it is, we really want to do the best that we can to upgrade masks as best as possible, both for yourself, as well as for all your family members, including your kids.



Written by Florence Hwang