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How do I handle my face mask correctly?

How do I handle my face mask correctly?

We are all now aware that masks are a critical defence against contracting and spreading coronavirus. However, many people will be using a face mask for the very first time, and using it properly is essential to gain the maximum benefit. 

  1. Store all masks in a clean and dry place, away from hazardous materials. Check that each mask is within its expiry date before you use it, and it is in perfect condition. 
  2. Before first use, ensure your hands are completely clean, with soap or a 60%-plus alcohol hand sanitiser, to ensure you do not contaminate your mask while putting it on. 
  3. Make sure that you are fitting the mask correctly - either the metal clip or the bendable portion should fit snugly around your nose. 
  4. Bring the mask to your face, holding it by the fastenings. Earloops fit easily behind the ears; headbands go over your head and are adjustable, and ties should be tied in a neat bow at the back of your head.  
  5. Pinch the stiff section across your nose until it moulds and fits comfortably. Ensure your nose and mouth are completely covered, and then wash/sanitise your hands again.

Instructions to follow when wearing a mask

  1. Once you have put your mask on, do not touch it with your hands.
  2. Do not touch any other part of your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth. Wearing a mask should act as a reminder of this.
  3. Remember that masks do not offer 100% protection, so you must still maintain social distancing and personal hygiene practices.

How to Remove Your Mask

Before you remove the face mask, you must clean your hands thoroughly with soap or a 60%-plus alcohol hand sanitiser. Only touch your mask from the fastening ties or bands, remove it and lift the mask away from your face. Do not touch the outside of the mask as it may have been contaminated. Clean your hands again thoroughly after disposing of the mask.

What other precautions should I follow while wearing a mask?

No mask can guarantee 100% protection against any virus. You must still follow all relevant government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing to protect yourself. 

Even with a mask on, your hands may still be exposed, and convey the virus or other germs to your face. Therefore, you should always follow these additional safety steps: 

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly; before and after any travel, before and after meals. When you return home from a trip outside, it is also advisable to take a full shower and change your clothes. 
  2. Hand washing should be done thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, cleansing all areas including your knuckles, wrists, nail cuticles, back of the palm, and all fingers with soap.
  3. If you cannot wash with soap and water, you should use a 60%-plus alcohol hand sanitiser.
  4. Do not touch your face, especially in public places.
  5. If you need to cough or sneeze and are not wearing a mask, cover your face with your elbow, not your hand. Wash the clothes when you return home. Alternatively, keep tissues handy, and dispose of them immediately after use. 
  6. Keep your surroundings clean and disinfected.
  7. Wash or sanitise food items and other essentials that you bring home before using them.
  8. When you meet people, do not shake hands or hug - maintain as much distance as possible.
  9. In shops and public places, try to maintain a distance of three metres from other people.