Masks, please.  But not N-95s

Masks, please. But not N-95s

Here in India, especially New Delhi where I live, we are all familiar with N-95 masks. So toxic is our winter pollution, that N-95 masks are increasingly de rigeur.

We need them, just to stop ourselves from choking on the city’s filthy air.

With the current Coronavirus pandemic, more & more people are following the rules & wearing masks – though there were still 22/53 Covidiots in the park, on my run this morning, not wearing masks.


Many of them were runners, sprinting along, with no sign of a mask – not even wearing them as a chinstrap.

So, yes, because people are wearing masks, and since we are encouraged not to wear the thin surgical ones, in order to leave them for the medical professionals, people have (not unreasonably) fished out their winter N-95 masks.

But now the government is discouraging us from doing that, too.

A couple of days ago, the Union health minister pointed out that the valve in the N-95 masks “is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask. In view of the above, I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the guidelines on the use of face mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N 95 masks.”

Makes total sense.

Dr. Shobha Broor, former head of microbiology department, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi said, “The masks with valves were widely used to prevent air pollution exposure. But it is not suited for COVID-19 because during expiration, droplets can leak out, infecting other people.”

Makes total sense Mark II.

We are being encouraged to use home-made cloth masks, preferable 3 layered, but I shall stick to my faithful buff. It gets washed after every use, and can be easily pulled up & down.

But if the situation gets worse and the health advisories are against it, I guess I’ll switch to whatever is recommended.

By the end of this damned pandemic, we are all going to be armchair experts in masks…but I dread to think what will happen if (God forbid) Covid-19 lasts until the winter, when we will be clobbered with a double whammy and will have to decide which mask to use – pollution or Coronavirus?

Please God that doesn’t happen.

And in the meantime, dear reader – please wear a mask!


  1. Rehana Fazli

    In Pakistan, a lot of us are wearing the China-made KN 95 masks, which don’t have the valve.
    Christine, I like yours. Is it home made? If it is, I would like a close up photo, so I can make some! I have lots of fabric, a sewing machine, but am undecided over the ideal model.

    1. christine

      No Rehana, it’s a buff/bandana. Basically a tube of fabric. Mine are in an almost breathable fabric, & I use them when climbing too. If you can’t find a pattern online, let me know & I’ll take photos of mine for you

  2. Anjali Nayar

    Good you brought this up Christine.It’s the N95 masks with valves which should not be used.Adding a summary on masks:?:Surgical/cloth does not allow the wearers secretions to go out ie I protect you,you protect me(by wearing your mask)-symbiotically. N 95 is a respirator-I protect me,I protect you (filters both inwards and outwards).For HCW we use them in cycles of 5,store each days mask with name,date in a brown paper packet to allow air drying/time(72 hours or more),reuse and discard after 5 uses=25 days. N 95 with valve-I protect me,I don’t protect you(by allowing my secretions to go out one way through the valve).They should NOT be used,were originally designed for industrial ? workers. Most importantly hand hygeine(washing frequently with soap ? or sanitizer). And NOT touching your eyes,nose,mouth.

  3. Anjulie

    Ridiculous how many people don’t wear masks – stupidity? Selfishness? Both? Like they say – if people complain that they can’t breathe with the masks, they’re really gonna hate the ventilator!

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