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The importance of covering the face with a mask cannot be emphasised enough. If you didn’t know it yet, face masks are pivotal in saving lives against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
As per India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, respiratory viruses such as coronaviruses impact the upper and lower respiratory tracts. In such a case, masks can play a crucial role in protecting the airway from the particulate matter generated by droplets/aerosols that might contain the infection.
Basis the mask you are using, you could either wash it or discard it. A triple-layer medical mask is to be disposed of on every single use, while a respirator mask such as the N-95 variant, could be home washed and then it is advisable to discard them after a period of extensive use. Washable, cloth-based masks must be home washed periodically.
Ensure that the mask fully covers your nose and mouth, extending an inch or more past the ends of your mouth and wrapping under to the bottom of your chin like an anchor. While the fit should be comfortable against the sides of your face and should not interfere with breathing, in case there are gaps on the sides while tied to your ears, you may want to consider closing those gaps to prevent the risk of transmission.
Be careful to untie the strings or stretch the ear strap to ensure minimal exposure of your hand with the mask. Be vigilant to not touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing the mask and wash your hands immediately thereafter.
Wash the mask after every with soap and warm water. You could also use 3 to 4 tablespoons of household bleach mixed with a litre of water and immerse your mask(s) in it. Another way is to use boiled water with salt in it in case soap or bleach is not available. Drying the mask in sunlight is also important as it is a natural disinfectant.
Consider carrying or keeping a spare mask to replace the one that becomes wet from the moisture in your breath, snow or rain or generally gets dirty. Remember to store the wet/dirty masks in a plastic bag until they can be washed.
Wearing a mask can save your life and the one’s near and dear to you! So, consider practising these mask hygiene tips and play your part in fighting this deadly virus.