PSA: Here are the masks and self-tests you need to use for travel now!

While LiveFromALounge is primarily home to travel and loyalty discussions, it becomes necessary to post other stuff from time to time. It seems I’ll be using one of my tickets to those pretty early on. At this point, we can already see that there appears to be another uptick in cases of the spread of the SARS-COV2 virus, which causes Covid-19.

Here is a screenshot from Our World in Data, a global database of Covid19 cases, with an excerpt for India. Pay close attention to the part in the red circle.

a graph of covid-19 cases

Fortunately, most of India has taken cognisance of this being a milder variant, but Covid-19 is what it is. As someone who went through the clutches of it last year, I only owe it to my family and fellow travellers to take more cognisance of this and travel with precautions.

There are two precautions I’ve moved on with at the moment. First and foremost, during travel and extended periods away from home, I’m using N95 respirators. These are no longer in short supply and are available widely. There are tons of brands out there, and I was ignorant in late 2021.

Since then, I’ve been following the CDC Assessment on masks, which has assessed various masks in the marketplace. The Government of India also mentioned that the number of counterfeit N95 masks is surging in India. An N95 mask needs to be NIOSH certified. NIOSH stands for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and is a division of the US CDC. NIOSH is responsible for N95 mask approval and certifies an N95 as a legitimate particulate respirator.

Cloth masks are useless, which has been known for a long time. I’ve only used perhaps one through the pandemic, and during the past two years, primarily depended on surgical masks and sometimes, ignorantly, on the non-NIOSH certified N95s.

Since I was heading to the Dubai Airshow in November 2021, I ordered these and have been sticking with them ever since.  Ordinarily, after a whole day of use, I’d toss of the mask. I’ve been wearing these at all sorts of crowded areas, such as airports and onboard planes. Here are the ones I’ve ordered and used, the 3M Aura 1870+ N95. At least from all the advice I’ve been reviewing and getting over the past couple of months, I’ve stuck to 3M and Honeywell as reliable brands.

a man and woman wearing face masks

While till December 2021, I was frequently getting an RT-PCR Test done before trips as a precautionary measure, I’d sense that the pressure on the labs will start increasing. So, I’ve also moved to order self-test kits, which are on their way. The self-test features a minimally invasive nasal swab and delivers results as early as 15 minutes with no instrumentation.

In India, there are three home-testing kits authorised for use:

  • Abbott’s Panbio (Abbott claims the Panbio Self-Test correctly identified 95.2% of positive samples and 100% of negative samples during the clinical evaluation phase)
  • Covifind
  • Coviself

I’ll report back when I’ve done some of the testings on how it operates, but from what I hear from friends in the states, it is pretty simple and mostly accurate, so it is easy to stay home and find out how you are doing on health.

Again, none of this is medical advice from a doctor, so I’d highly recommend you talk to your GP if you need any specific answers.

What precautions are you working with to keep yourself and your family safe?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Magnum ones have proved to be reliable for me as well, they are also NIOSH certified and I didn’t catch COVID yet. But buy from pharmacy as lot of fakes on Amazon. I don’t reuse once I take off so it costing 1/3 of 3M is great.

    For tests, COVISELF is avoidable as their app has stopped working on iPhone. I bought in bulk so I’m stuck with them.

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