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There're many cloth mask covers being sold. Some come with slots which we can insert our own filters. Can we insert kitchen towel into it? Is it effective in blocking out viruses? Thanks!

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Dr. Rosanna T
Space Doctor
Doctor
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Dear teck337,

Thanks for your question!

In terms of protection from viruses, wearing a surgical or cloth mask may not protect you. There was a Vietnamese study on cloth masks vs surgical masks in healthcare workers. It showed that the group wearing surgical masks had a lower rate of developing influenza-like illness or viral respiratory infection, compared to the cloth masks group. However, even the group wearing surgical masks still had some infections. 

We would advise you to wear a surgical mask if you are unwell. The purpose of this is to protect others when one coughs or sneezes, as the mask would trap those droplets and prevent those droplets from spreading and disseminating. In order to do this, the surgical mask is made with a certain pore size and materials that allow it to do its job. 

At the end of the day, what you can do to protect yourself includes avoiding crowds, keeping a safe distance from others, hand hygiene, refraining from touching your face. As per our MOH guidelines, a medical mask is not required for people who are not sick.

Take care and stay well!
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@teck337
Thank you, Doctor!
Dr. Rosanna Tay
Doctor
4 Streak Score Doctors are able to put a streak together by performing an activity everyday
Space Doctor
Dear teck377, given the changing situation, do stay tuned for more updates on this as reusable masks were brought up during the address to the nation today.