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SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 spreads from person to person respiratory droplets which are commonly formed when a carrier of the virus exhales, coughs, or sneezes. Contracting the virus is typically feasible through inhalation or touching a surface with the virus and then subsequently coming in contact with mouth, eyes or nose.
Facial protection has been deemed necessary by organizations and governing bodies alike around the world. There are mainly 3 types of face masks and are briefly itemized below:
Fabric Face Masks
These offer a relative degree of protection, but they may help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses from asymptomatic people while in conditions of social distancing. Many organizations and governing bodies suggest using them in public place while practicing social distancing and proper hygiene.
Surgical Face Masks
These masks don’t offer the best protection against infection with SARS-CoV-2 as air leakage occurs through the sides of the mask as you inhale and are not suggested when coming in contact with infected people.
These respirators can adequately protect against smaller respiratory droplets, such as COVID-19 however, they have to be fit-tested, become uncomfortable and stuffy and in many cases limited in supply and should be used by medical personnel.
It is more important for the general populace to:
- Thoroughly wash your hands or us an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Practice social distancing.
- Being conscious of your face touching it only with clean hands.
That being said face masks should fully cover the nose and mouth and prevent fluid penetration.
Fitting a mask
Masks should fit snuggly over the nose and mouth. If the mask has ties, place and hold the mask over your nose, mouth, and chin, then stretch the bands over your head and secure them comfortably. Adjust the mask to fit. Remember, you don’t want to be touching it during use so take the few seconds needed to make sure it is secure on your head and fits snuggly around your face so there are no gaps.
Where to Remove
Best done at a doorway or before entering your home where you can remove it and immediately dispose of it accordingly (if it is reusable). Ensure that hand hygiene facilities are available at the point, e.g., sink or alcohol-based hand rub.
Removing a Mask
With Clean hands untie the bottom, then top, tie or remove from one ear and then the other if with elastic bands. The front of the mask is
considered contaminated and should not be touched. Handle only the ties or elastic bands and discard it into the designated waste receptacle.
Remember that Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of preventing infection transmission. You should perform hand hygiene before and after removing the face mask. Whilst not touching your face in the process
THIS GUIDLINE WAS CURRENT AT THE TIME OF PUBLISH AND MAY VARY FROM COUNTRY AND/OR GOVERNING BODY DEPENDING ON REGIONAL SITUATION. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR LOCAL HEALTH ORGANIZATION FOR THE CURRENT BEST PRACTICE.
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. Some governing bodies and organizations additionally advise the use of simple cloth face masks or coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. The cloth face masks although offering adequate protection for the purposes of social distancing they are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.