DIY cloth face mask
April 8, 2020 - More countries are advising people to wear a mask when they go out in public, as growing evidence suggests that even a simple cloth face covering could help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control (CDC) changed its long-standing policy on face masks last week, and is now advising Americans, whether or not they have symptoms of Covid-19, to cover their face with a mask or cloth covering whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain – such as in grocery stores and on public transportation.
The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N95 respirators – those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers, the CDC says.
The shift in recommendations reflects growing evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by a person’s exhalations and normal speech but also the fact that people are not effectively covering their sneezes and coughs.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to recommend that healthy people only need to wear masks if they are caring for others suspected of being infected or if they themselves are coughing or sneezing. It also emphasises that masks are only effective if combined with frequent hand-washing and used and disposed of properly.
One reason is that mask use can easily backfire if mishandled, according to Dr Dale Fisher, an infectious disease physician and chair of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.
He said many mask-wearers may feel a “false sense of security” and can easily end up transferring any virus droplets on the surface of their mask onto their hands or the surfaces in their home when they take off the mask.
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