It is important to note that there is no mask that can completely protect you from contracting coronavirus. A face mask, while helpful, should not be the primary preventative measure.
Frequent and correct handwashing, as well as social distancing combined with wearing a mask, can reduce the risk.
While all masks offer some protection in a way, some masks are better than others.
The surgical grade N95 respirators offer the highest level of protection against Covid-19 infection.
However, these masks are expensive, cannot be recycled and are not designed to be worn for extended periods. In countries where wearing a mask has been encouraged as a preventative measure, the advice has generally suggested that these should be reserved for health care workers.
Further research is being done, but hand washing and social distancing remain the first port of call for safety.
That said, all face masks all have some benefit to help mitigate the risk of transmission.
“Generally speaking, standard masks, which also includes surgical masks, inhibit the dissemination of infectious material into the environment. Those carrying the coronavirus are frequently healthy, moving freely and undetected.
"It would therefore certainly not be unreasonable for everyone to wear a mask when indoors, using public transport or in when shops or offices. It also makes sense to wear masks when it is not possible to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres, which could very well be the case for many activities,” explains Dr.Andreas Paky a pulmonologist at St. Gallen.