A round-up of the latest expert information on masks to help you make the best use of them
Masks help stop the Covid-19 virus from spreading, but that does not make everyone willing to use them properly. For many, 2020 is the first time putting on a mask.
Here is a round-up of the latest expert information on masks to help you make the best use of them:
Why wear a mask?
One of the main ways that Covid-19 spreads is through respiratory droplets that people expel when they talk, sing, cough or sneeze. That is why physical distancing is important to avoid catching the disease. But since it is not always possible to keep a distance from others in crowded public places, the use of a fabric mask is recommended to protect each other.
What type of mask should I get?
If you and your family do not have any Covid-19 symptoms, then fabric masks are recommended.
Medical masks (often referred to as Personal protective equipment or PPE) are in short supply and should only be used if you or a family member is at a higher risk of severe illness due to Covid-19 (people over 60 years old or with underlying health conditions), or if you are caring for someone who is Covid-19 positive.'
Also read: OP-ED: Why wear a mask?
What type of mask is best?
Masks come in a wide variety of materials and can be something you make at home or buy in a store. The World Health Organization recommends three layers made up of:
an inner layer of absorbent material such as cotton
a middle layer of non-woven material such as polypropylene
an outer layer of non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend
The mask should cover the nose, mouth and chin and be secured with elastic loops or ties.
When to wear a mask?
If Covid-19 is widespread in your area, then a mask should be worn in all public settings where it is difficult to keep a physical distance from others, and always when in indoor public spaces.
Whether your children should wear a mask depends on a number of factors, including their age and ability to safely and appropriately use a mask. See Unicef and the World Health Organization's guidance for more details.
Also read: UNDP launches #MaskUpBangladesh campaign
When not to wear a mask?
Masks should not be worn by anyone who is unable to remove them without help, including infants and young children, or anyone having difficulty breathing.
Unicef and WHO recommend that children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks.
Masks should not be used when playing sports or doing physical activities, so that it does not compromise breathing. Sweat can also make the mask become wet, making it difficult to breathe and easier for germs to grow.
What should I look for when getting a mask for my children?
Many masks are designed for adults and will not fit children properly. If you are buying masks, choose one that is appropriately sized for your child. Make sure they can breathe comfortably in the mask while walking quickly and talking.
How to clean a mask?
Wash fabric masks using soap or detergent in hot water at least once a day. After washing, the mask should be dried completely before being worn again. Store masks in a clean bag.
Talking to your children about masks
For young children, wearing masks can be confusing and upsetting. So, it is important to approach it in an open and supportive way. Wearing masks is a habit, so consistent reminders and behaviour is key.
It is important to explain to children that by wearing masks, we can help keep people around us safe, including older and more vulnerable members of society.