To mask or not to mask?
In photograps and videos, and in streets and supermarkets, we see people wearing face masks. It’s particularly noticeable abroad where most appear to have been able to buy or acquire supplies. Wearing masks is compulsory in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Some other places are considering it.
Here the UK and Scottish governments are downplaying the wearing of masks with Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish government’s national clinical director, saying that “…there is “no evidence” to support members of the public wearing protective face masks.” These, he says should be worn by healthcare workers and people who have coronavirus. The global evidence is that masks in the general population don’t work. Because Covid-19 is spread by droplets rather than through the air, hand-washing and social distancing are more effective for everyone else. Although some suggest this stance is because medical, nursing and care staff have waited many weeks for supplies of necessary PPE to materialise without the general public having to be supplied too.
UPDATE: This is a useful article on whether to wear face masks.
As apparently people can have the virus a few days before symptoms appear, and it can hang around after symptoms disappear and people are able to go out again, shopping or even in some cases to work. There is some disparity between various advice as to how long those who have had the virus should remain isolated – 7, 14, 21 days or more? So, if this is the case, surely the general public wearing face masks would help control the spread of the virus.
Despite Professor Leitch’s comments, there is a growing demand for masks. Unsurprising as people are frightened of the, often horiffic, health implications of going down with Covid_19. So if going out to shop becomes necessary, it is understandable that people want to feel as safe as possible. Wearing masks and gloves, using hand sanitiser, and observing social distancing, adds to the precarious feeling of safety, or at least of doing everything possible to avoid contracting Covid_19.
With a lack of masks to buy, many are resorting to making their own fabric versions – not ideal as they are only said to give protection for 15-30 minutes before becoming damp and so allowing the virus to stick to it. But probably sufficient time for a quick dash around the supermarket or local shop for essential supplies.
When wearing a mask you should’nt touch it, and care should be taken when removing face masks with only the elastic, and not the fabric, being touched. After wearing, fabric masks must be thoroughly washed in soapy water, soaking for two minutes, before washing and rinsing. Then wash your hands, and disinfect anything you touched after taking off the mask.
If you decide you want to wear a mask but don’t know how to obtain one, why not try making one yourself. There are plenty videos available giving instructions, but beware those using unusual materials such as vacuum cleaner bags as there may be health risks involved. Below are links to a few you might want to view.
Deaconess Health: How to make a face mask
How to make a tartan face mask
How to make a non-medical coronavirus face mask – no sewing required
Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19
How to SEW a REUSABLE FACE MASK with FILTER POCKET
UPDATE: Euronews: Homemade masks