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Coronavirus: When And How To Use Face Mask + The Correct Way To Discard It

 One of the ways to keep coronavirus at bay is wearing a face mask. But, do you know that face mask should be opted for only when you cough or sneeze, have coronavirus or are taking care of the one who is suspected of it? Here’s the right way to wear the mask and also know how to discard it.

Coronaviruses (CoV) belong to a large family of viruses that may lead to respiratory illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Likewise, earlier this year, a new strain of coronavirus was discovered, which has not been previously identified in human beings, also known as a novel coronavirus (nCov). Are you aware? COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory disease and in serious cases it can lead to pneumonia.

 These are the symptoms of coronavirus

If one exhibits symptoms such as respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties then he/she may suffer from coronavirus. More severe cases of COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and kidney failure. These symptoms can be particularly dangerous for elderly patients or people with existing health conditions. Do not delay if you spot these symptoms when it comes to your loved ones or yourself.

Tackling coronavirus

It is the need of the hour to deal with coronavirus by taking several measures such as handwashing, using a sanitizer, not going to crowded places and using a face mask if one has cough and cold. But the face mask should only be opted when one is sick. Yes, you have heard it right. We brief you about when and how to use a face mask and know the proper way to dispose of the mask.

When to wear a mask?

  • Everyone need not wear a mask. Only wear a mask if you have symptoms (cough, fever or difficulty in breathing)
  • If you are caring for a COVID-19 suspect/ confirmed patient
  • If you are a health worker attending to patients with respiratory symptoms
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

This is how you MUST wear a mask

  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
  • Remove a mask from the box and make sure that there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask.
  • Determine which side of the mask is the top side. Moreover, you should know that the side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose.
  • Know which side is the front. Remember that the side which is coloured is the front and should face away from you, and the white side should touch your face.
  • There should be no gap between your face and mask.

Adhere to the below-mentioned guidelines for the type of mask you are using

  • Face mask with ties: The mask should be at your nose level and the ties should be placed over the crown of the head and then secure it with the bow.
  • Face mask with ear loops: You will have to hold the mask by the ear loops and place a loop around each of your ears.
  • Face mask with bands: Here, you must hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. The mask should be at the nose level and then pull the strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of the head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck.

This is how you should remove the mask and dispose of 

  • Clean your hands with the help of soap or a hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Do not touch the front side of the mask as it is contaminated. You must only touch the ear loops/ ties/ bands.
  • To remove face mask with ear loops: Hold both of the ear loops and remove the mask gently.
  • Face mask with ties: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull away the mask as the ties are loosened.
  • Face mask with bands: Lift the bottom strap over your head first and then pull the top strap over your head.
  • Discard the mask immediately in the trash bin and clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

Takeaway: You must replace the mask as soon as it is damp or wet. Do not re-use the mask. Follow these vital guidelines while wearing a mask and stay safe.

By: Dr Sanggita Checker, Consultant Pulmonologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mira Road

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