Doctors and public health experts agree that wearing a face mask is one way we can minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Although face masks or face coverings are set to become mandatory, there are still many questions about them that the general public has. Mask wearing had never been common before the Coronavirus, so it might help learn some simple do's and don't of wearing the face masks.
How does a Face Mask Prevents the spread of COVID-19?
The respiratory virus, COVID-19, usually spreads through droplets that leave the nose or mouth when a person talks, sings, yells, sneezes, or coughs. So, if one is standing in front of someone infected with COVID-19, and neither one of you is wearing a face mask - it is highly likely that you will also catch the COVID-19 virus.
Suppose the COVID-19 infected person is wearing a face mask. In that case, there is less probability that the droplets will spread to the second person because the mask acts as a physical barrier, provided if it is worn correctly. Since many people who get COVID-19 might experience delayed or very few symptoms, each one of us should wear a face mask to keep the droplets affecting others - to be safe. Even if a person is tested negative for COVID-19, one should wear a face mask to not get infected.
I am wearing a face mask to protect others from me - not the other way around. This is known as controlling the source. Experts have researched that source control is one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, and it's a negligible way we can care for each other in an environment where we as individuals have very little control.
Below are some of the basic do's and don'ts of wearing a face mask or facial cloth covering.
Do's of Wearing a Face Mask
Do ensure that your face-mask is a close fitting one.
A face mask's prime purpose is to stop the spread of infectious particles by blocking them away from one's face. For this to be successful, the face mask must fit snugly with minimum gaps. FFP2 or FFP3 respirator masks fit very snugly to the front, while a surgical mask is a loose kind of barrier. Thus, for better protection, better should be the fit.
Do learn the correct way to put on and remove the face mask.
It is equally important to wear a face mask properly. This includes mastering the proper way to wear and remove the face mask while maintaining a minimum contact to minimize the risk of spreading any germs.
Do wash hands before and after wearing it or taking it off.
Face masks assist in protecting the respiratory system. The outside portion of the face mask carries potentially harmful germs. Thus, whenever one touches the mask to wear or remove, one must wash hands well or use a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Do clean your mask correctly after use.
If one has opted for a reusable mask, then ensure that it is regularly cleaned. Usually, there is a tendency to buy the reusable face to save on the cost, but one feels lazy cleaning it. The cleaning of the face mask is a simple method. One has to follow the washing instructions written in the packaging. OSHA guidelines say that a respirator mask can be reused as long as they're not soiled or damaged.
Do continue to practice social distancing even when wearing a mask.
Although face masks offer a high degree of protection, they don't guarantee to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Alternatively, if one is only practicing social distancing without a mask, one has a certain protection level. Thus, it is important to practice both wearing face-mask and practicing social distancing to maintain at least 1-meter distance to increase effectiveness drastically.
Go for Double-masking
Of late, it has been recognized that unless you are wearing an N95 mask, use of double masks offers far more protection against COVID-19 and its mutant strains than a single one. The best practice would be to use a cotton mask along with a surgical mask. Both shall fit snuggly on face.
Don'ts of Wearing a Face Mask
Don't pull your mask down while eating and drinking
When an individual wears a face mask, the skin area on one's neck is exposed to the outside world and, in other words, to the harmful COVID-19 droplets. If you pull your mask below your chin, then there are chances that the inside of the face mask could pick up these droplets in your neck area, and you could then inhale them when you pull the face mask back on your nose. If you do need to remove your cover for any reason (like eating or drinking), then you should always remove it entirely via the proper method.
Don't wear your mask below the nose
A common and prevalent practice - a lot of people seem to be wearing the mask only over their mouth. Take note that Coronavirus droplets can be transmitted through the eyes and nose as well. While masks don't protect your eyes, it's all the more important to make sure your face mask is covering your nose and mouth so that you do not infect the others.
Don't wear a damaged mask
Before putting on a face mask, one must always first verify that it doesn't have any tears or other damage signs. If it does, you should avoid wearing it because it may not offer the protection you expect. One must keep more than one mask handy so that one can rotate them while the other goes for cleaning, and so that you have a spare in case one becomes damaged.
Don't get carried away with a false sense of security by wearing the face mask
Face masks or coverings can only help one to slow the spread of Coronavirus by preventing contaminated droplets from being passed from one person to another. However, they do not provide a 100% guarantee on this. So, do not let wearing a face mask make you forget to do other necessary safety measures like keeping your distance, avoiding touching your face and washing your hands thoroughly, or using a hand sanitizer gel.