Using a fabric mask during the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the hygienic guidelines that have been put in place, but it is important to note that wearing this alone will not protect you from the Coronavirus.
Here is what you need to know about using your mask effectively with other health guidelines.
Before we begin, it is important to follow official health websites and news centres that can provide you with accurate information such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the South African Coronavirus website introduced by the government.
Are fabric masks effective to use?
Fabric masks can be used during the Coronavirus pandemic, but it should be used as an additional protective measure. What this means is that you still need to wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer. You will also still need to keep a safe distance and follow the proper guidelines of wearing your mask to prevent the spread. Wearing your mask alone will not protect you from the Coronavirus.
Why it is recommended to wear fabric masks?
The purpose of a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic is to protect you when you are going into public spaces such as using transport, going to the pharmacy, doctors, or going to the grocery store. Your mask helps catch any droplets that can be spread from your mouth and nose. It also protects you from someone who is unaware that they may be infected.
The South African government has urged people not to use N-95 and surgical masks that are reserved for medical professionals, but to make use of household fabrics that they can turn into masks. However, these fabric masks should not be placed on children who are under the age of 2 years old as this could affect their breathing.
What is the proper way to way your mask?
Following the guidelines that have been set, which can be found here, can prevent cross-contamination. Incorrectly wearing your mask can leave you and your loved ones vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus. The proper way to wear a mask is:
Never touch the fabric of your face mask when wearing or disposing of it. The only part that you should be touching is the loops the go around your ears. You should avoid touching your face with your hands when wearing and removing your mask.
Avoid lowering your mask to your chin or your forehead when speaking, coughing, or sneezing.
Avoid touching the inner side of your mask when removing or putting on your mask.
Snuggly fit your mask over your nose and mouth. Your nose should never be exposed when wearing a mask.
Wash your mask regularly and dry it out completely. You can hand wash it or use a washing machine. Always remember to wash your hands when you have done this.
Always remember to not touch your face when putting on or taking off your mask, which can be done by removing your mask from behind your ears with the loops. You can find handy tutorials on how to sew a mask or make a mask from a t-shirt from the CDC website to protect you and your loved ones.