But are masks really necessary if you’re healthy and not taking care of a sick person, or a medical professional?
It’s important that members of the public use good judgement to decide whether they need a face mask or not, so that our healthcare professionals on the frontlines are not compromised by lack of supply and access to such equipment.
Below we share some information from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation:
“Critical to prioritise medical masks and respirators for healthcare workers.”
World Health Organization (WHO)
When should you wear a mask?
• If you have any of the following flu-like symptoms:
• Persistent dry cough
• Body aches and pains
• Sore throat
• If you are a healthcare worker exposed to infected and potentially infected patients
• If you are taking care of or in close contact with someone with a respiratory infection or confirmed coronavirus infection (COVID-19)
• Surgical grade masks and N95 respirators should only be used by healthcare professionals
• Cloth masks (homemade/ reusable) can be used in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
How to use a mask correctly
• A mask should be changed once it becomes wet from spit or mucus as it may be damaged
• Never wash or disinfect a mask unless it’s a reusable cloth mask
• Never share masks with others
How to correctly use and dispose of masks
• Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds prior to putting on the mask
• Place the mask over your nose and mouth and ensure a tight seal
• Secure elastic ear loops or straps
• Avoid touching the front of the mask while using it
• Remove the mask without touching the front and discard immediately into a closed bin
• Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after discarding the mask
How do I prevent COVID-19 infection?
• Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing and dispose correctly of all tissue paper immediately
• Avoid touching your eyes nose and mouth with your hands, especially if unwashed
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Always maintain social distancing (a minimum of 1 metre)
• Wash your hands frequently with soap for 20-40 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (>60% alcohol content)
1. World Health Organization. Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19: interim guidance. 6 April 2020. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331693
2. South African National Department of Health. Dr Zweli Mkhize recommends the widespread use of cloth masks. https://sacoronavirus.co.za/2020/04/10/dr-zweli-mkhize-recommends-the-widespread-use-of-cloth-masks/