Masks play a very important role in the fight against Covid-19, which is still far from being over.
Importance of face masks in general
· Masks have been proven to reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
· They provide two-way protection in the sense that the person that may exhibit Covid will not be able to spread it through droplets because they get trapped by the masks and the person that does not have Covid is less likely to breathe in any droplets from the air.
How to dispose of masks?
· It depends on what is available.
· Ordinarily, if it is a disposable mask, one should seal it in plastic and dispose of it in general waste making sure they wash their hands afterwards, more importantly, if one has symptoms.
· There are no special requirements for disposal but sealing them in plastic ensures that if it is infectious it will not spread if refuse is collected.
Surgical masks: Can they be reused?
· It is about taking a pragmatic approach in a resource-poor area where people cannot afford to be buying surgical masks every day.
· As long as all other infection control measures like washing your hands and social distancing are observed, it is possible to use surgical masks.
· However their effectiveness does not remain the same when they get washed and ironed.
· Compared with not wearing a mask at all, it is better to wash and iron them especially if there is a shortage, or people are unable financially to purchase disposable ones every day.
Under normal circumstances for how long should surgical masks be used?
· Clinically surgical masks can be used for the duration of a working day.
· If one goes to work in the morning, and has a surgical mask on, they can use that mask for the day and dispose of it at the end of the day.
· However, for the general public if there is a shortage reuse is not totally bad
Cloth masks and their effectiveness
· The effectiveness depends on the number of layers that are in the mask.
· A single layer mask is less effective than the one that has two or more layers.
· In general cloth masks have to have at least three layers with a central layer that is composed of a tougher woven material like cotton that can act as a buffer to reduce the spread of infectious droplets.
Double masking versus single masking
· Double masking is better than single masking.
· Some people wear surgical masks underneath cloth masks and this offers extra protection.
· However caution has to be exercised if one has underlying breathing problems as that can cause some difficulties in breathing.