Wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to help reduce coronavirus transmission and save lives. According to the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a face mask in public places has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19, because those who are pre-symptomatic can spread the virus before showing symptoms.
Amid the alarming surge in COVID cases across the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently took to Twitter and shared some guidelines on who, how and when should one wear medical and fabric masks.
Medical or surgical masks
In a video shared on Twitter, the WHO advised that these types of masks should be worn by:
• Health workers
• People who have COVID-19 symptoms
• Those who look after someone suspected or confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19
In case of areas where the outbreak is known to be widespread and social distancing of at least one metre is difficult to maintain, medical masks should be worn by:
• People who are aged 60 or above
• People with underlying health conditions
Early in the pandemic, major problems in the global supply of medical-grade masks had driven everyone to switch to wearing fabric masks or non-medical masks.
WHO has advised in its video that fabric masks can be worn by those who do not have COVID-19 symptoms where the COVID-19 is the widespread and physical distancing of 1-metre cant be achieved. This includes people who are in close contact with social workers, cashiers and servers.
Fabric masks should also be worn in busy public settings like public transport, workplaces, grocery stores and other crowded environments.
According to WHO, fabric masks should have 3 layers:
1. Inner layer with an absorbent fabric
2. Middle layer with non-woven fabric
3. Outer layer with a moisture-resistant fabric
However, WHO has remarked that masks alone cannot protect one from COVID-19 and has urged everyone to maintain at least one-metre physical distancing from others, to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly even while wearing a mask.