Clinical Question: Is there a difference between mask types in preventing viral respiratory infections for healthcare workers?
Bottom Line: In healthcare workers;
- Surgical masks and respirators (N95) appear to provide similar protection against viral infections, with N95 masks having slightly lower, but not statistically different, infection rates in the wearer (~1-2%).
- Cloth masks are less effective than surgical masks (with ~2% more respiratory infections in 4 weeks).
- No randomized controlled trials examined transmission from healthcare workers to others and none examined COVID-19.
- Masks are just one-part of Personal Protective Equipment and transmission precautions.
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