As the world adapts to a new normal, cloth masks are becoming more and more popular.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued a guideline on the use of non-medical fabric face masks.
On Wednesday, 10 June, the WHO took to Twitter to explain the differences between surgical masks and non-medical face masks as well as who should use them.
They stated that fabric face masks are suitable for those without COVID-19 symptoms and people living in areas where the disease is widespread.
Besides that, WHO also stressed that fabric masks should be used in busy public settings and situations where physical distancing of one metre cannot be achieved.
Individuals should always clean their hands before touching fabric masks, as stated in the WHO official guidelines
However, the WHO emphasised that the main purpose of a fabric face mask is to protect others around the wearer and not the person using the mask themself.
Ensuring a 1-metre physical distance and washing hands frequently are still the best steps a person can take to prevent themselves from being infected by COVID-19.
Here is the WHO's full guideline on how to wear a fabric face mask safely:
- Clean your hands before touching the mask.
- Inspect the mask for damage or if dirty.
- Adjust the mask to your face without leaving gaps at the sides.
- Cover your mouth, nose, and chin.
- Avoid touching the mask.
- Clean your hands before removing the mask.
- Remove the mask by the straps behind ears or head.
- Pull the mask away from your face.
- Store the mask in a clean plastic resealable bag if it is not dirty or wet and you plan to re-use it.
- Remove the mask by the straps when taking it out of the bag.
- Wash the mask in soap or detergent, preferably with hot water, at least once a day.
- Clean your hands after removing the mask.
On the other hand, mistakes that people often make when using fabric face masks include repeatedly touching the mask with dirty hands as well as sharing it with others
During a media briefing on COVID-19, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "People can potentially infect themselves if they use contaminated hands to adjust a mask or to repeatedly take it off and put it on, without cleaning hands in between."
Not wearing a face mask properly could put yourself and others at risk of infection. Therefore, it is important to identify some common mistakes to avoid.
Here is WHO's guidelines on how not to wear fabric masks:
- Do not use a mask that looks damaged.
- Do not wear a loose mask.
- Do not wear the mask under the nose.
- Do not remove the mask where there are people within 1m.
- Do not use a mask that is difficult to breathe through.
- Do not use a dirty or wet mask.
- Do not share your mask with others.
Keep practising social distancing and wash your hands often. Watch the latest update on the COVID-19 situation: