Fabric Face Mask Vs Medical Mask: Who Should Wear What And Where


Coronavirus prevention: Both medical mask and fabric face masks are an important preventive measure for COVID-19. In a recent video released by the World Health Organization, it has been explained who should wear which kind of mask and where. Medical mask are single-use masks which need to be duly discarded every day, while fabric masks are re-usable. Fabric face masks need to be washed with warm water after every use. There are a few guidelines that need to be followed while wearing the mask, which we will discuss later in the article.

COVID-19: Who should wear which mask, how and when

The type of mask that one is using depends on the level of protection they are looking at and their underlying conditions. “In public places where social distancing is being maintained fabric/homemade masks can be used, the only thing important here is that the mask should have at least four to five layers of fine fabric (preferably cotton), that has pores for air to filter,” says Dr Viny Kantroo, Respiratory Medicine Specialist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.

He goes on to add that in places where a distance of two metres cannot be maintained, a medical mask is required. At hospitals or people catering to the patients a medical mask is a must, he asserts.

Medical masks

Medical masks are also known as surgical masks. According to WHO, they need to be worn by:

  • Health care workers
  • People who have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Those who are taking care of someone suspected or confirmed with COVID-19.

In areas where COVID-19 is widespread, and physical distancing of at least one metre cannot be achieved, medical masks should be worn by:

  • People who are aged 60 years or older
  • Those who have underlying health conditions

Fabric face masks

These face masks are also known as non-medical masks. They should be worn by:

  • People who have no COVID-19 symptoms
  • Where COVID-19 is widespread
  • Physical distancing of at least one metre cannot be achieved
  • People who are in close contact with others such as social workers, cashiers and servers.
  • Fabric face masks must also be considered in busy settings like when travelling in public transport like buses, shared taxis, and trains, in workplaces, in grocery stores and other crowded environments, mentions the video shared by WHO.


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