Here's all you need to know about using cloth masks for COVID-19

You need to know this before you buy a mask

Man with a cloth mask (Reuters)

The recent directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta is that you should wear a face mask whenever you are in a public place. This is just one of the measures to try and contain the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier on, we had been told that face masks should only be worn by health workers and sick people. However, given that some people do not show any symptoms, it’s becoming necessary to wear a mask to protect other people. That way, we all protect each other.

Are cloth masks effective in fighting coronavirus?

But what type of masks should we wear? Should we all go for the rare N-95 masks or the surgical masks? According to the Centre for Disease Control, we can use cloth masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

They recommend wearing the mask while in a public setting where social distancing is difficult such in grocery stores.

“CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.” CDC reported.

The surgical masks and N-95 respirators, which are not easy to come by should then be reserved for healthcare workers.

Standards for cloth masks to fight coronavirus

The cloth masks should, however, meet these standards as outlined by CDC:

  • It should include multiple layers of fabric
  • Should allow for breathing
  • It should fit comfortable against both sides of the face
  • Should be one that can be washed and dried without getting damaged

Do’s and Don’ts of cloth masks

  • They should not be used on children under the age of 2, someone with breathing problems or one who cannot remove the mask on their own.
  • They should be washed regularly depending on the frequency of use.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose or eyes while removing the face mask.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask.

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