Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Proper Use of Masks During These Troubled Times

From the WHO: Proper use and disposal of masks is essential to ensure they are potentially effective and to avoid any increase in risk of transmission associated with the incorrect use of masks. The following information on correct use of masks derives from the practices in health-care settings:

• place mask carefully to cover mouth and nose and tie securely to minimise any gaps between the face and the mask
• while in use, avoid touching the mask − whenever you touch a used mask, for example when removing or washing, clean hands by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based handrub
• replace masks with a new clean, dry mask as soon as they become damp/humid
• do not re-use single-use masks − discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removing.

Although some alternative barriers to standard medical masks are frequently used (e.g. cloth mask, scarf, paper masks, rags tied over the nose and mouth), there is insufficient information available on their effectiveness. If such alternative barriers are used, they should only be used once or, in the case of cloth masks, should be cleaned thoroughly between each use (i.e. wash with normal household detergent at normal temperature). They should be removed immediately after caring for the ill. Hands should be washed immediately after removal of the mask.


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