Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Wear your mask!

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:16 AM

COVID-19 Spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you, or they may breathe these droplets in.

Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic), and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic), can still spread the virus to other people. Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.

It is especially important to wear a mask when you are indoors with people you do not live with. Everyone two years old and older should wear a mask in public settings and when they are around people who do not live in their household.

Wear a mask when caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 , whether at home or in a non-healthcare setting. If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, wear a mask when you need to be around other people or animals, even in your own home.

TYPES OF MASKS

Some masks work better than others to help stop the spread of COVID-19 outside of healthcare settings. Medical masks and N-95 respirators should not be used because they should be conserved for healthcare personnel.

Cloth masks

The most effective fabrics for cloth masks are tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and cotton blends, breathable, two or three fabric layers. Less effective fabrics for cloth masks are loosely woven fabrics, such as loose knit fabrics, difficult to breathe through (like plastic or leather) or single layer.

Non-medical disposable masks

Disposable face masks are single-use masks. They are sold online and through large retail stores. These are not the same as surgical or other medical masks.

You may prefer using disposable masks in situations where your mask is likely to get wet or dirty. As with cloth masks, make sure your disposable mask fits close to your face without large side gaps and completely covers your nose and mouth. Bring extra disposable masks with you in case you need to change out a dirty or wet mask.

Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel

Clear masks or cloth masks with a clear plastic panel are an alternative type of mask for people who interact with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, young children or students learning to read, students learning a new language, people with disabilities, and people who need to see the proper shape of the mouth for making appropriate vowel sounds; for example, in singing.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

• People age two and older should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.

• When you wear a mask, you protect others as well as yourself. Masks work best when everyone wears one.

• A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least six feet apart, especially when indoors around people who do not live in your household.

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol, after touching or removing your mask.

• Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with other people who live in your household.

Source: World Health Organization; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention