23 May 2024

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health is insisting that cloth face masks can protect against the Omicron COVID-19 variant, if they are made of muslin and worn properly.

The statement was made by Dr. Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Medical Sciences Department, which contradicts a report from  the COVID-19 Information Centre, citing data from a guest professor from the Milken Institute of George Washington University, that says cloth face masks are useless against the variant and recommends the use of three-layer medical masks.

Dr. Supakit said that the Medical Sciences and Health Services departments have tested many kinds of fabric used to make face masks and found that muslin is most suitable, because it can stop droplets from passing through and can be reused several times.

“The Omicron (version of the) virus is not smaller than the other variants and it does not just hang in the air. It is emitted in coughs and sneezes in the form of droplets, at a size of between 5-6 microns,” he explained.

More importantly, he said, muslin face masks must be properly worn, covering the mouth and nose and not worn under the chin.