According to Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao on January 24, many European countries have forced people to abandon cloth masks and switch to surgical masks, hoping to slow down the spread of the new crown mutant virus when the number of infected patients surges in winter.

The French government currently requires people to wear disposable FFP1 (at least 80% filtration) masks, more protective FFP2 (at least 94% filtration) masks or cloth masks that can block 90% of particles when they go out. In other words, homemade masks do not meet the new standard.

The French Health Advisory Council pointed out last Monday that cloth masks might not be enough to stop the mutated virus. Member Kams said: “Since we don’t have new weapons to deal with new strains, the only thing we can do is to improve the weapons we already have.”

The German government forced people to wear FFP1 or FFP2 masks in public transport, workplaces and shops last Tuesday. Among them, Bavaria was more stringent, requiring people to wear N95 masks with a filtering effect of 95%.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the media that the implementation of stricter mask regulations was due to the spread of mutant viruses found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. “I urge the people to take this matter seriously, otherwise it will be difficult to prevent the third wave of the epidemic.”

Austria has ordered from last week that FFP2 masks must be worn in public transport and shops.

In response to the new regulations on masks in many European countries, the World Health Organization has stated that it had no intention to change the guidelines for the use of cloth masks for the time being, because the transmission method of the mutant virus is the same.

The WHO recommends that people under the age of 60 and who have no underlying health problems can still use cloth masks to prevent the virus. Only medical personnel, people who have symptoms of new crowns, have been in contact with patients with suspected new crowns, and people who are 60 years and older or have underlying diseases should wear medical or surgical masks.

Van Kelkhoff, head of WHO’s new crown virus technology, said that cloth masks must have three layers of cloth to provide adequate protection. The inner layer should be able to absorb water, such as made of cotton; the middle layer should be made of polypropylene non-woven fabric to act as a filter; the outer layer should be made of waterproof material, such as polyester fiber.

According to the US “Stars and Stripes” on January 23, since last Monday, medical-grade masks have been required throughout Germany, but each state had different regulations on which masks to wear.

Generally speaking, you can wear FFP2 or FFP3 masks, KN95 or N95 masks, and medical surgical masks in public places with shopping, public transportation, medical treatment, religious activities or crowded public places.

Since January 18, Germany’s largest state, Bavaria, has been compulsory to wear FFP2 masks, KN95 or N95 masks, but medical surgical masks are not allowed.

It is said that FFP2 or FFP3 masks can effectively isolate the new coronavirus. According to the German Federal Institute of Medicines and Medical Devices, they protect the wearer and nearby people from the larger particles (i.e. droplets) and smaller particles (i.e. aerosols) sprayed from the mouth and nose. KN95 or N95 masks can provide the same protection.

Baden-Wurttemberg allows medical surgical masks to be worn in most public places, but requires FFP2 masks, KN95 or N95 masks to be used in hospitals or nursing homes.