According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are three types of protective masks:
Medical (or surgical) mask
This mask (of disposable use) is made out of three layers of special materials (with filtration layers in the middle) and acts as a natural barrier to respiratory droplets. It can protect the carrier from the virus as well as their surroundings (in case they are sick). It is highly recommended for vulnerable groups (and for people who are looking after or living with vulnerable people), people who have symptoms, and of course health care professionals. They vary in quality and levels of protection.
The effectiveness of the fabric mask is limited in its role as a barrier against the spread of the virus, however the World Health Organisation recommends its use to the general public -especially in settings where it is impossible to maintain physical distance of at least 1 meter- as it does provide a level of protection, while there is also a possibility of it reducing the spread of the virus from asymptomatic patients. It is good to use a dense cotton fabric, with multiple layers, so that there is a higher degree of protection.
Respirators (FFP masks)
On the other hand, these masks are specifically designed for health professionals: they fit snugly on the face and with inhalation, all the air passes through a special filter, thus providing significant protection against the virus. These masks are available at different performance levels such as FFP2, FFP3, N95, N99. However, a strict application process is required and they are not recommended for the general public.
None of the masks provide 100% protection and in addition to that, the correct application of the mask is absolutely crucial. Apply the mask by completely covering the nose, mouth and chin and carefully remove it from the ties/elastic loops. Avoid reusing it if it is disposable.