Face Masks: How to use them during COVID-19
We are encouraging our patients who need to physically come into our premises to wear a face covering and we wanted to give you some more information on why we are doing this and how you can make your own mask at home.
It is important to note that this is not a requirement by the Welsh Government, and we encourage our patients to make their own masks, leaving medical supplies available for the NHS and key worker staff.
What we know about COVID-19
Amidst the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been some confusion over the benefits of wearing a face mask. Our medical experts are here to dispel any rumours, offering their advice on how to wear a face mask to keep you and others safe.
COVID-19 is a respiratory virus which is transmitted through close contact with an infected individual when breathing in infected breath droplets. It can also be passed by direct contact with infected people or by contact with contaminated surfaces and objects. However, the disease is reportedly not able to spread through purely airborne transmission.
Why are face masks being worn during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Whilst face masks are not yet required by law for us to wear in Wales, it is important to consider every possible measure that we can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Understandably, many people are turning to face masks to protect themselves and others from the virus. However, some of us have been misinformed about the best approach to take when using a mask to ensure it has a positive impact in preventing the spread of the virus.
Best practice when wearing a face mask
Face masks primarily aid in protecting those around you from the virus. They contain your breath droplets in order to prevent any potentially infected breath from being inhaled by someone around you. To ensure face masks are most effective in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following steps should be taken each time a mask is worn.
1. Wash your hands before handling the mask
Before even touching your mask, you need to clean your hands to ensure that you are not spreading contaminated particles to the mask. Ideally wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or if this isn’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
2. Wearing the mask correctly
When you come to put the mask on, ensure it is covering your nose, mouth, and chin and that there are no loose areas or gaps between the mask and your face. You should avoid touching the mask whilst wearing it, as well as regularly sanitising your hands. If wearing a healthcare-style surgical mask, the metal strip is the top of the mask and should be used to secure the mask over your nose.
3. Removing the mask
When you come to remove the face mask, you must wash your hands again before handling it. You should avoid touching the front of the mask as this will be the most likely area to be contaminated. You should only touch the ear loops/band/ties to remove the mask. Here’s how we would recommend removing each type of face mask safely:
- Face Mask with Ear Loops: Hold both ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask away from your face.
- Face Mask with Ties: Untie the bottom bow first, followed by the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
- Face Mask with Bands: Lift the bottom strap first over your head and then pull the top strap over.
You should then dispose of the mask or wash it if you are using a reusable one. Clean your hands again before continuing with your day.
Communities getting together to make their own masks
With the demand for facemasks incredibly high for NHS services, many communities have begun making their own face coverings to further protect their local area. They can be made at home, leaving medical supplies online available for the hospitals that need them most.
YouTube channel, Sew Over It, recently did a live stream showing how to sew a face covering, with no pattern required. You can also use this as an opportunity to customise your mask to suit you, with a whole host of fun fabrics and patterns to explore.
If you don’t have access to a sewing machine, you can even create a face covering with this t-shirt DIY facemask, which requires nothing more than an old t-shirt and some scissors. Simply cut out the pattern and you are good to go!
If you do create your own reusable facemask, we would advise washing them in between wears with anti-bacterial soap and hot water.
It is times like these when we as a community need to work together to protect ourselves, the NHS and prevent the spread of this virus as much as possible.
For a reminder on the current government advice on how to keep yourself and others safe, you can read more on our recent blog post, here: https://bit.ly/2zMPCHC