How Effective are Face Masks in Fighting The Virus?
There is a misconception about the effectiveness of a face mask to combat COVID-19; that with a face mask covering noses and mouths, the risk of infection from the virus is diminished significantly.
With more than 8,000 deaths recorded in the UK, protecting your health and the health of others should be your main priority.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
There is never a ‘need’ as such to wear a face mask but there are situations where its use is recommended while it provides little protection in other circumstances.
Face masks can indeed help but only if they are used in conjunction with over preventive methods such as constant hand-washing either by soap or by use of our effective hand sanitiser rather than being used in place of this method.
If you are caring for someone who has the illness or is suspected of having the illness then a face mask is recommended for when you are in the same room as them to protect yourself.
If you are coughing or sneezing, whether you know it is due to COVID-19 or not, then a face mask is suitable for use to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading in the air. What else can you do to protect yourself and others?
How to use a face mask
Medical face masks should be flat and pleated with a metal strip at the top of the mask.
Before putting on the mask, you should wash your hands beforehand (as you should be doing regularly as a preventive measure) and clean them with hand sanitiser. This prevents the virus from being transferred onto the mask which will be in regular contact with your face.
You should place the metal strip over the bridge of your nose and then secure it by pulling the elastic strings around your ears or tying the string tightly around the back of your head.
Once the mask is secured, you should pull it down to ensure that your mouth and nose are fully covered.
From here, you should avoid touching the front of the mask any further as the effects of washing your hands will wear off throughout the day so there is a chance that by touching the mask, you are placing the virus onto it.
To remove the mask, you should do the steps to put on the mask in reverse order starting by lifting the elastic strings from around your ears or untying them and then lifting the mask up off the bridge of your nose. While doing this, you should avoid touching the front of the mask.
Never reuse a mask once it has been worn
Once you have removed the mask, you should immediately throw it in the bin and then repeat the process of washing your hands for at least twenty seconds.
In particular, you should wash your hands if you have touched the front of the mask but it is good practice to wash your hands afterwards anyway just in case you have touched any potentially infected surfaces in that time.
If your mask becomes damp or humid while you are wearing it, you should replace it with a new dry mask as soon as possible.
The WHO also offers video explanations regarding the above issues with a demonstration of how to use and dispose of the mask.
Coronavirus help & advice
- Coronavirus: where did it start? How long will it last? How far has it spread?
- What can you do to treat coronavirus?
- Methods of ensuring COVID-19 hotspots have access to 70% Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitisers
- Coronavirus myths to ignore
- Guidance for employers and businesses