FAQ on Masks

WHY SHOULD WE ALL WEAR FACE MASKS?

We catch the coronavirus mostly from us touching surfaces that a person with coronavirus was near or touched. Transmission actually only occurs when we touch mucosal membranes on our face (mouth, nose and eyes) with our contaminated hands. It is much less common for you to get it from inhaling viruses floating in the air unless you are in close contact with a person with coronavirus i.e. less than 1 metre and more than 15 minutes, who is without a fabric mask. This can be very challenging as many transmitters don’t even show symptoms. They can emit droplets by even talking or laughing. We advocate cloth face masks more because it reduces this spread by droplet rather than providing us with absolute protection.

Thus we should ALL wear the cloth face mask because WE may have the virus and we will protect others by reducing US spreading the virus to OTHERS. Wearing a cloth face mask is not about providing us absolute protection but is a public health measure that reduces the risk for everyone IF we ALL wear it! Don’t forget that cloth face masks are part of the COVID-19 prevention mix, i.e. keeping a 1.5m distance from others and washing/sanitising hands regularly. Here is more scientific evidence for this case

WHAT FACE MASKS SHOULD WE ALL WEAR?

Our health care workers are the first line of defence for any person who is ill with COVID-19. Precious supplies of surgical face masks and N95 respirators must be reserved for them. Surgical face masks are also needed by workers providing essential services including public safety and food supply. We encourage the public to DONATE all their hoarded medical masks to the public service without delay. We can preserve essential supplies AND slow the COVID-19 epidemic if everyone else uses a cloth face mask. Our guiding principle is Cloth Face Masks for All!

WHEN SHOULD I WEAR A CLOTH FACE MASK?

Every person should wear a mask when they are outside their homes. Practice social distancing measures at the same time. And wash your hands as often as practical. Avoid touching your face. All these measures together will keep you and others safe. Any person who is showing COVID-19 symptoms must wear a face mask. Any person who is helping a person with COVID-19 symptoms must wear a face mask.

HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE A GOOD MASK TO BUY?

There are lots of masks out there. All masks should have three layers. The best cloth face masks are those with 100% cotton with at least 150 thread count for the outer layer, and inner layer. There should be a middle layer with a filter material, usually spunbound material. The inner and outer layer must be clearly marked so that you dont confuse them. The mask should fit well, be easy to breath and comfortable.

HOW CAN I MAKE MY OWN MASK?

You can make your own mask very easily with just handkerchiefs, T-shirts or socks. There are lots of places to learn how to make your own masks. See some useful resources below

HOW SHOULD I WEAR MY CLOTH FACE MASK?

Wear only have one mask per person and don’t share, even in your family.  It is wise to have several masks that are yours and clearly marked as such. Make sure it is washed before using it. Avoid wearing the mask back to front if it is being used more than once before being washed for re-use. Make sure you can tell the difference between the front and back. Make sure you cover your mouth AND nose completely. The mask should go from halfway up your nose to 25mm under your chin.

Once you have the mask on your face avoid touching your face or fiddling with your mask except at the edges. if needed. If you wear glasses and need to adjust them, use the earpieces if possible. Avoid rubbing your eyes or touching near your eyes. Wash your hands as often as needed. Avoid wearing it carelessly around your chin or forehead or leaving some of the ties hanging loosely. Remember it is potentially contaminated. Always be safe.

Take your mask off carefully when you reach home. Run your thumb along the elastic, strong or edges, without touching the mask back or front, and remove from your face. Fold and place in a bucket. Wash your hands immediately after that.

HOW SHOULD I CLEAN MY CLOTH FACE MASK?

Wash the masks in warm soapy water. Dry out thoroughly in the sun for 4-5 hours or iron with a hot iron as it kills the virus.

SHOULD ALL CHILDREN WEAR CLOTH FACE MASKS?

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2 or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance

SHOULD I WEAR GLOVES ?

We do not recommend the use of gloves as people may easily touch their faces with gloved hands, having a false sense of security. Hand sanitiser cannot clean virus off the rubber of gloves. It needs stronger solutions. Gloves must be disposed off after every touch use and are best for health care workers, using it with individual patients and then discarding. Being without gloves makes you more aware of what your hands touch and is safer.

SHOULD I WEAR A VISOR?

Visors without cloth face masks are mostly useless as most people still touch their face with possibly contaminated hands. Whilst it may prevent you from spreading droplets onto surfaces (coughing, laughing or talking) it does not prevent you from spreading nor inhaling virus floating in the air around you.

ARE THERE USEFUL RESOURCES ON WEARING MASKS?