Advice on Face Masks
The Ministry Of Health recognises the potential benefits of homemade masks when acting as a physical barrier to stop some droplet spread of the novel coronavirus when in public spaces. However, in yesterday’s press briefing 31 March 2020, the Chief Medical Officer also advised to use caution when considering the use of homemade masks to protect against the transmission of COVID-19 as the level of protection cannot be guaranteed.
“Social distancing and thorough attention to hygiene must continue to be practiced as the best form of defense,” said Dr Lee.
Homemade masks are not medical devices and consequently are not regulated, whereas medical masks and respirators conform to certain standards depending on their application.
The use of homemade masks poses a number of limitations, which include that:
• they have not been tested to recognised standards;
• they are not likely to provide protection against virus sized particles;
• the edges are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth;
• the fabrics are not the same as used in surgical masks or respirators;
• they can be difficult to breathe through;
• they may require frequent adjustment, increasing the amount of times your hands come into contact with your face and increasing the probability of infection.
The Ministry recognises the global shortage of medical grade masks and stresses that surgical masks and N95 masks should be saved for medical professionals and those who are sick and showing symptoms.
“Homemade masks can be used in public spaces to reduce the potential for droplet spread which is the way COVID-19 is transmitted. We at the Ministry of Health, Public Health Department and the Health Services Authority (HSA) ask that residents remain considerate of the current global shortage of medical grade masks” said Honourable Dwayne Seymour.
Should residents choose to make their own, the following website is provided as a reference source.
• Deaconess: How to Make a Face Mask
Residents are being reminded that masks (surgical or non-surgical) are effective only when used in combination with frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
The public is reminded to follow the public health department’s recommendation for optimal prevention from the coronavirus, as follows:
1. Frequently cleanse hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
2. Cough or sneeze in a tissue and bin it.
3. If a tissue is not available, cough/sneeze into your elbow and not your hands (with or without a mask.
4. Avoid close contact with people suffering from fever or cough
The Ministry and the Government continue to urge people to practice social distancing, which means six feet away from others when going about essential tasks in public spaces. Social distancing and staying home has proved the most effective to containment.