Given the outbreak of omicron Covid 19 in the wider community in New Zealand, medical professionals suggest upgrading your face mask—remember the omicron variant is highly transmissible so you're better off with a respirator style that protects against finer particles over your standard cloth mask which just acts as a physical barrier.
What Are The Different Types Of Face Masks
Firstly, let's clear up what the different types of masks are.
- Respirators (N95/KN95/P2)—Respirators (referred to as N95, KN95/KN94 and P2 depending on the country) cover the mouth and nose with a tight seal and are mostly disposable, but some can be reused (Peter Tsai, inventor of the N95 mask says respirator masks can in fact be reused—find out how with this rad think piece from The Spinoff). If worn correctly so they form a tight seal around the nose and mouth, they filter out very fine particles—the 95 refers to the fact they filter at least 95% of airborne particles—and are more effective at preventing the transmission of airborne infectious agents. Surgical grade respirators are also fluid resistant so offer the most protection. This great article from Stuff also goes into more detail and explains why headband straps offer more protection than ear loops.
- Surgical Masks—Surgical masks are disposable masks that act as a physical barrier and prevent transmission of droplets and fluid, with varying degrees of protection available. There are concerns over the difficulty to achieve a solid seal so they won't offer the same protection against airborne infectious agents.
- Cloth Masks—Cloth masks can be washed and reused multiple times and come in plenty of different styles (see some of our fave brands here). These types of masks provide varying degrees of protection—just keep in mind you should be looking for those that are made of three layers of fabric with a water-resistant outer layer.
- Double Masking—While masks are more about protection than fashion, we get that you wanna look good when you're out and about. If you're not loving the look of those more protective options, you can wear a cloth mask on top of a disposable surgical mask, however, it's not advised to double mask with the respirators (sorry). And in general, one good mask is better than two.
Where To Buy Respirator Face Masks—N95, KN95 And P2 In New Zealand
If in doubt, we've rounded up a few places you can pick up respirator masks for delivery in New Zealand.
- Pharmacies such as Chemist Warehouse have P2 respirator masks but tend to sell out so they're available in-store only, Netpharmacy has a good range available for delivery while Zoompharmacy currently has KN95's in stock.
- Department stores like TheMarket and The Warehouse and stores like Culture Kings are currently stocking N95 masks, but stock levels may fluctuate.
- Home improvement stores such as Mitre 10 (has KN95s) and Bunnings has P2 dust masks which offer similar protection against finer airborne particles. Similarly, you may find some at OfficeMax who are currently taking orders and PB Tech is also selling respirator masks.
- You can find more fashion-friendly masks at airinum.com and MeoAir (including ones for kids) that offer similar protection against airborne particles and carry the official N95 classification.
- Medical supply stores such as Jackson Allison and Amtech have a variety of surgical-grade respirator masks though may have some supply issues. NZSafetyBlackwoods also have some good options, though some of the N95s are restricted for sale to medical professionals.
- Dedicated mask sites such as Lanaco have P2-certified respirators available, known as the Waire P2 Mask, these bad boys contain a unique filter scientifically developed from NZ wool fibre and were worn by New Zealand’s Olympic and Winter Olympic Teams so you know you're in good hands.
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Image credit: Arturo Rey