As the world faces a new and expansive health challenge, the need for health and hygiene measures (like wearing a face mask in public) are critical to controlling the spread of COVID-19. Face masks now play a pivotal role in society, helping to combat the spread of the virus.
It is vital for the general public to know how to use face masks properly. Having the right knowledge about the face mask guidelines you should be following is crucial to ensure the health and safety of individuals across the globe.
Experts say that knowing as much as possible about Coronavirus will help us understand how the disease is spread and how we can protect ourselves. Moreover, experts have encouraged everyone to follow the face mask rules and guidelines issued by both the WHO and the CDC. Here’s how you can do your part.
What are some of the face mask regulations issued by the WHO and CDC?
Wearing a face mask is the first line of defense against this deadly new coronavirus. Professor David Heyman, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, advised members of the public to follow the guidelines issued on how to wear their masks properly and to be aware of changes that may occur on a daily basis:
“As always, when new evidence becomes available, the WHO will be considering its face mask policies as a routine activity,” Professor Heyman said.
Heyman emphasized that wearing a mask will protect uninfected people from getting the virus from those who are already sick. He also said that wearing a mask will only come in handy in this war if we observe the other measures like maintaining social distance and frequently washing our hands.
A recent study from Hong Kong suggests that face masks can help stop the rate of infection among the general population. However, challenges like face mask shortages and people choosing not to follow face mask guidelines complicate the issue at hand.
Recent CDC facemask guidelines
You can evaluate how well you’ve been following the recommendations, yourself, by reviewing the recent CDC guidelines:
- The mask should fit tightly but comfortably against the sides of the face.
- The mask should have secure straps ear loops to keep it from falling off your face.
- Wear a mask with multiple layers of fabric for added protection.
- Avoid using plastic materials that restrict breathing.
- Wear a mask that can be laundered and machine dried without damaging or changing its shape.
- Routinely wash reusable face masks after each use.
- Do not hoard medical masks, especially N95 respirators and their ilk. They should be reserved for medical personnel, who have the highest risk of exposure.
- People with difficulty breathing and children below the age of two should not use masks.
- Avoid wearing a standard bandana, handkerchief, or scarf as a face mask unless you have no other option.
When and how to remove a face mask
Do not lower your mask and (even if you plan to raise it again) while you are in public. The germs on your mask will then transfer to your hands, which may transfer them in turn to the surfaces you touch. Remove your mask once you are outside and ready to return home or once you have actually arrived at home.
Avoid contaminating your face mask by touching it with your hands or leaving it on infected surfaces. Do not touch your eyes, mouth, nose, or ears while removing the mask. Gently grab the straps and take your mask off. Do not touch the outside or the inside of the mask.
Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask. If your mask is washable, put it directly into the washing machine or wash it right away with soap and warm water. If it is not washable, dispose of it (preferably outside, where other members of your household will not come in contact with it).
If you want to make a homemade mask, check out some of the CDC’s DIY mask-making instructions and tutorials or some of our own DIY-face-mask articles to learn how to do it right.
Is wearing a face mask mandatory?
Some cities and countries across the world have put laws and regulations into effect, making face masks mandatory in public. In such cases, mask-wearing is enforceable by the law and could land you with a fine or under arrest. Check with your local authorities before stepping outside without wearing a face mask. This is for your own health and safety and that of others you may come into close contact with, but also to keep you from breaking the law!
Some might see these face mask laws and rules as being overly strict, however, recent research and data show that these measures are necessary to successfully combat the spread of the virus and ensure the health and safety of citizens all around the world.
What else can we do to curb the spread of COVID-19?
Observe good personal hygiene
Wash your hands thoroughly and as many times as possible throughout the day. You can use soap or other antibacterial detergents and plenty of flowing water.
In case you’re unable to wash your hands (for example, if you’re in an office or traveling) you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and thoroughly apply it on your hand surfaces.
Continue socially distancing yourself
The WHO recommends maintaining at least one meter or three feet of distance from another person. On the other hand, the CDC says if it’s possible, maintain a six-foot distance (two meters) between yourself and other people.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
This will help curb the spread of the virus from your hands. We can’t fully guarantee that our hands are clean 24/7, as we touch many surfaces throughout the day. If we have the virus on our hands and we touch any permeable organ like our eyes, nose, or mouth, we can pave the way for the virus to enter our bodies and infect us.
When we become infected, we can spread the virus after touching certain parts of our faces and then coming into contact with other, uninfected individuals.
Staying at home is one of the best ways of controlling the spread of COVID-19. If you’re not going out for work or to do essential shopping for groceries or medical supplies, stay at home. If you have to go out, wear a face mask to avoid being infected or infecting others.
Self-isolate/self-quarantine if you notice symptoms
In case you notice symptoms like a dry cough, headache, chills, or difficulty breathing, it’s best if you self-isolate for at least two weeks to determine whether you have the virus or not. This will reduce the risk of spreading the disease to other people until you’re sure that you are well.
If the symptoms persist or become severe, contact your local health authority to be directed to the right health facility.