Fabric masks: why is their use discouraged in France?

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Given the arrival in France of new, more contagious variants of Covid-19, the Higher Council of Public Health (HCSP) recommends using only category 1 masks. Category 2 masks and especially homemade masks advise against them.

In the absence of surgical masks in sufficient quantity for several weeks at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people acted as apprentices to seamstresses and made protective masks out of cloth. But while the British variant of Covid-19 circulates more and more actively, the Higher Council of Public Health of France (HCSP) today recommends avoiding using artisanal fabric masks. For the advisory body, these masks are no longer effective enough to fight more contagious variants.

"Due to the penetration in Europe of certain new variants (...) that are more transmissible, while the modes of transmission have not changed, the question arises of the category of masks that can be offered in the general population", Didier Lepelletier, health officer physician and co-chair of the HCSP Covid-19 working group, stated on BFMTV. He indicates that it is now preferable "to use a reusable Category 1 mask, rather than Category 2 masks that filter less, or even masks made where there is no control over the performance that is achieved."

Much less effective homemade cloth masks

Category 1 masks block 90% of particulates, compared to only 70% of Category 2 masks. Homemade masks are not certified at all, and therefore their effectiveness is impossible to assess. "Today, faced with more transmissible variants, we have to move towards category 1 masks. As for the fact of superimposing two masks, as Joe Biden does, the doctor does not see any sense." There is no scientific evidence, "he said.

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