Face masks have become somewhat of a rare unicorn in this warped COVID-19 world we live in. While there’s still no conclusive evidence to suggest that wearing one prevents the transmission of the virus, most retailers are temporarily sold out of face masks nationwide, suggesting we’re buying them as a precaution measure at the very least.
But it’s nothing to fret about yet. If you’re still looking to get your hands on some face masks, we’ve tracked down some retailers which still stock them (at the time of writing).
Where to buy face masks
This is one of Australia’s largest online pharmacies which provides medication and general pharmacy products by direct mail. Pharmacy Direct stocks standard N95 masks, ProShield protector masks and 3D photocatalyst face masks which you can buy in packs of five or in bulk (50 pieces). All masks stocked by this online retailer contain high level particle and bacteria filtration systems with 99% efficiency.
- Free shipping on standard orders over $99
- Flexible delivery options Australia-wide
- Discount prices
Medshop is a big wholesale supplier of medical equipment and consumables for healthcare professionals and students. It stocks a limited range of 3-ply (the number of layers on the mask) standard surgical masks and P2 and N95 face masks with a fluid resistant disposable particulate respirator.
- Free shipping on orders over $350
- Prices exclude GST
- Get notified when products are re-stocked
Kogan is one of Australia’s largest online retailers of consumer electronics and goods, and also stocks KN95 and N95 face masks with respirator protection and a minimum Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of 95%, which apparently offers protection against airborne bacteria and viruses. Kogan also sells a wide range of protective disposable and washable face masks which you can buy in packs of 10 or 50.
- Fast dispatch options available
- Free shipping for Kogan First members
- Zip and Afterpay available
This online market place trades almost anything, and with millions of product listings added to eBay every day, you should find your fair share of face masks there. A quick search of the site will turn up dozens of listings for disposable protective antibacterial surgical grade face masks coming various 3-ply designs and N95 masks with respirator filters. There are also different pack sizes available starting from packs of 10 masks, up to packs of 100. Keep in mind that stock on third party marketplaces may be limited depending on listing availability.
- Free delivery on selected items with eBay Plus membership
- Sort listings by price and estimated delivery date
- Click & Collect available
This online retailer is well stocked with basically everything, including face masks. Amazon sells a wide range of medical and personal care masks like ‘Safe Shield Technology’ face masks, standard 3-ply surgical masks, and various cloth face masks as well. Most products come in packs of 20 or 50. Be aware that stock on third party marketplaces may be limited depending on listing availability at any given time.
- Free delivery on select items with Amazon Prime
- Wide range available
- Afterpay available
Get a Mask
Get a Mask is part of the Australian-owned safety equipment supplier, Minerva Safety, and typically supplies personal protective gear to the mining industry. This online supplier still has a small selection of disposable N95 respirators and surgical masks in stock. Surgical masks are only available in packs of 50, while N95 masks come in smaller pack sizes.
- Australian-owned company
- Express shipping available
- Overnight delivery in some areas
What are the main types of face masks?
In terms of face masks for COVID-19 prevention efforts, there are generally three types:
- P2, N95 and KN95 respirators
- Surgical masks
- Cloth face masks
We cover them in more detail below.
What’s the difference between P2, N95 and KN95 face masks?
If you’re shopping for face masks, you’ll often find product descriptions such as P2, N95 and KN95 listed which can add a level of confusion when comparing products. Essentially, disposable P2, N95 and KN95 face masks are one of the same. Different countries use different codes and numbers to name their respiratory face masks. So, P2 is European, N95 is the USA equivalent, and KN95 is the Chinese standard. Also known as respirators, these types of masks are thicker than regular surgical masks and are designed to filter out very fine particles from the air, hence why they’re usually worn to help reduce exposure to bushfire smoke and poor air quality.
It’s worth reiterating that there’s currently no evidence to suggest that the use of face masks in healthy people prevents the transmission of coronavirus, so do your research before you shop.
What about surgical masks?
Surgical masks are what doctors and healthcare workers typically wear to prevent the transmission of diseases by exposure to large particle droplets from a patient’s sneeze or cough, for example. Surgical masks are loose fitting, as opposed to respirators which are fitted and create a vacuum seal between the mask and the face. Quick side note ─ if you intend on buying disposable face masks, opt for respirators instead since critical supplies of surgical masks should be kept for healthcare workers and medical first responders fighting the virus on the frontline.
Are cloth face masks effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19?
Cloth face masks don’t offer protection against droplets and would therefore not be very effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Nevertheless, many people buy them as a precautionary measure or to wear in public for peace of mind.
The good news is that cloth face masks aren’t hard to come by, because you can either make them at home with common fabrics like cotton or wool, or buy some from online retailers like Etsy or AliExpress. Be aware though that cloth face masks should be thoroughly washed after every use to prevent cross contamination.
Picture credits: DimaBerlin/ Shutterstock.com/ Maridav/ Shutterstock.com.