The debate over whether wearing a face mask is effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 is finally over.
Long before this announcement, masks such as the N95 (FFP2) respirator and surgical masks started flying off the shelves of pharmacies and hardware stores everywhere.
These are still in extremely limited supply and global authorities are urging people to reserve such Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in constant close contact with COVID-19 patients.
Therefore, the W.H.O says that members of the public (who are not in immediate danger of being infected) should wear fabric face masks instead. Not only does this encourage job creation in poorer communities, but these are also reusable and affordable.
Furthermore, wearing a simple cloth face mask will help to slow the spread of the virus and prevent asymptomatic patients from transmitting it to others.
According to the CDC, to be effective, cloth face masks should -
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
- be secured with ties or ear loops,
- include multiple layers of fabric,
- allow for breathing without restriction, and
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or changes to its shape
If you do decide to wear a standard surgical mask, keep in mind these best practices:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before applying the mask and after removing it.
- Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
- Cover your mouth and nose with the mask and ensure that there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the inside of the mask.
- When you are removing the mask, don’t touch the front as it could be contaminated. Remove it from behind using the ear loops and inspect it for damage.
Watch: When and how to use masks
Remember that wearing a mask is just one of the many preventative measures we must take to prevent infection. Proper handwashing techniques, social isolation, social distancing in public, not touching your face and regularly cleaning surfaces at home are of utmost importance.
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