CDC now recommends people to wear cloth face masks in public settings where other measures are difficult to maintain. Covid-19 spreads with aerosol respiratory droplets from an infected person that land on other surfaces and may infect other people when they touch the various openings at face such as eyes, mouth and nose after touching the contaminated surface. Surgical 3 ply masks are essential for people who are covid-19 positive, taking care of someone sick or those who are working at front line. A surgical mask keep the droplets contained from an infected person and prevent big splashes and harmful germs getting in.
As per studies available, makeshift masks are rather a placebo. They do more harm than good as they provide a false sense of safety. People wearing homemade cloth masks may overlook the importance of sanitising and washing hands hence as a result may fall prey to the virus. Although homemade face masks do not prevent the risk of contracting the disease, they do keep you from touching your face. CDC recommends to donate N95 respiratory masks if you are in possession of one. N95 masks are for only medical staff who are directly in contact with patients diagnosed with covid-19. They are tight-fitting and filter out airborne particles.
Can I Reuse Surgical Masks?
Homemade cloth masks are terrible at filtration. They do minimal to create a barrier. With the pandemic, all types of masks are in limited supply which leaves common people with makeshift masks, cloth, scarves and bandanna to cover their face. You can also use cloth or scarf as an additional layer on top of surgical mask. This prevent contamination of mask, further extending its life. Although it is not recommended to reuse masks, it is still a better option than cloth masks that do nothing. Surgical masks have to be made to a certain standard whereas there is no quality control check or guidelines available on what a homemade mask can or cannot do.
When discarding your mask, follow precautions. Always throw your mask in a bin with the lid and do it carefully. Do not shake off your mask as it must not come in contact with environment. Dispose-off the mask as soon as it becomes damp or visibly soiled. Remember wearing mask is just one part of the strategy besides washing hands frequently and keeping 6 meter distance.