What Is Double Masking and Is It Necessary in Australia?

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Double masking has been commonplace in the US for a while now. In fact, in January 2021, many articles were written about the use of double masking at the Presidential inauguration, with attendees like Joe Biden, Amanda Gorman and Pete Buttigieg all donning two masks for the occasion.

So, why two masks, you ask? Well, the simple answer is that it can help provide you with increased protection against COVID-19. Even Dr Anthony Fauci is a fan of double masking, telling NBC: “If you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective, and that’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

How to Double Mask

Double masking involves layering one mask on top of another, with the most common layering technique involving a surgical mask on the bottom, followed by a tight-fitting cloth mask on top. While it might sound like a lot of fabric, layering two masks together offers you double the protection, which in the current age of the Delta variant, is much needed.

Is Double Masking Effective?

The short answer here is yes. As Dr Fauci said, it makes sense that adding another layer of fabric over your face would offer more protection. Recent research out of the US found that double masking with a surgical mask followed by a cloth mask can reduce exposure by more than 10 times compared to simply using a fabric or surgical mask on its own.

As you’ve most likely discovered over the last 18 months, many masks don’t fit your face perfectly, so adding another on top can help create a seal that stops droplets from entering the face coverings. “Adding a second mask can improve filtration even more,” says Healthline. “This is because it effectively doubles the layers of material that virus-containing respiratory droplets have to travel through before reaching your face and mouth.”

If you’re not sold on the idea of double masking, another option recommended by distinguished research scientist from the University of San Francisco, Jeremy Howard, is to “knot and tuck” the sides of a surgical mask to help seal the gap between your face and the outside world.

“Double-masking and knot-and-tuck both help to seal the side gap in surgical masks that otherwise allows virus particles direct access to your lungs,” Howard wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald. “COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through aerosolised respiratory particles that can be inhaled through air that travels through the side gaps. Bending the nose wire in your mask also delivers a better seal.”

Is It Necessary in Australia?

According to Howard, double masking is one of the most effective weapons we have to slow the spread of Delta. This variant has proved to be highly transmissible, which means we need to change how we respond to it. “Last year’s masks are no longer up to the task. It’s time to up our game again,” wrote Howard.

And, while you’re currently only required to wear one mask in certain states in Australia, you might want to consider donning two to help keep yourself protected and in turn, slow down the spread of the virus in the community. If you’re on the hunt for a new cloth mask, we have a plethora of options for you to shop here.

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