When combined with other preventative measures, face masks serve as an effective shield against the contraction of infection. Fabric masks are recommended for the general population by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals who have not completed both doses of their vaccine are recommended to wear face masks in both indoor and outdoor public areas, where is there a high risk of contracting COVID-19. N95 masks are usually worn by health care workers according to the CDC. Medical masks are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for health care professionals, and for those who may have COVID-19 or are caring for patients who tested positive.
To ensure complete effectiveness, cloth and medical masks should be properly fitted to your face’s contours to minimise air flowing out of the edges. There should be no gaps between the mask and the nose, mouth, or chin. When you breathe out, you should feel warm air coming through the front of the mask. You shouldn't be able to feel air flowing out of the mask's edges. Masks with a flexible nose strip assist keep air from escaping through the top of the mask.
The way you use, store, and maintain your mask has an impact on how well it protects you. To put on and remove your mask, follow these steps:
- Before and after putting on your mask, wash or disinfect your hands.
- Cover your mouth, nose, and chin with your mask.
- Use ear loops or tie it behind your head. Make sure it's not too tight.
- If you're wearing a mask, don't touch it.
- If you touch your mask by mistake, wash or disinfect your hands.
- If your mask gets wet or soiled, replace it with a new one. Place the used mask in a sealable bag until it can be disposed of or washed.
- Untie the mask or raise the ear loops to remove it without contacting the front of the mask or your face.
- After removing your mask, wash your hands promptly.
- Wash cloth masks in the washing machine or by hand on a regular basis. (They may be washed in the same machine as normal laundry.)
- Ensure you are only eating or drinking in a dedicated area for dining. Perform hand hygiene thoroughly before removing your mask to eat, followed by repeating hand hygiene after finishing. After putting on your mask finish with performing hand hygiene again.
For a step-by-step process on how to remove your mask safely to eat or drink, watch the video below: