WHO specifies rules: guidance on the correct use of masks

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Although one has already become accustomed to the use of mask, however, again and again uncertainties arise when wearing it. The World Health Organization has now specified the rules and takes a clear position in a new recommendation.
Should you tie your mask in your wrist and also wear a mask in your own home? The World Health Organization (WHO) now provides answers to these questions in a rule paper dated December 1. Most recently, the WHO issued recommendations in June on the compulsory use of masks.

Mask on wrist hygienically questionable
You are on the road, want to buy something quickly and have the mask ready in your hand. So many people tie the mask in their arm and wrist. But this is not hygienically safe, as the WHO writes in the paper.

Masks should “not be worn on the arm or wrist”, it says on page 3 of the recommendation. Also, the masks should not be pulled down to the chin or neck if they do not cover the mouth and nose, according to the WHO.

The reason for this is probably that the necessary hygiene measures cannot be observed on the wrist, arm, chin and nose.

Regular and thorough washing of the hands, for example, is an important tool in the fight against the corona virus.

WHO provides the following guidance on the correct use of masks:

• Perform hand hygiene before putting on the mask.

 • Inspect the mask for tears or holes, and do not use a damaged mask.

• Place the mask carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, adjust to the nose bridge and tie it securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask. If using ear loops, ensure these do not cross over as this widens the gap between the face and the mask.

• Avoid touching the mask while wearing it. If the mask is accidently touched, perform hand hygiene. • Remove the mask using the appropriate technique. Do not touch the front of the mask, but rather untie it from behind.

• Replace the mask as soon as it becomes damp with a new clean, dry mask

• Either discard the mask or place it in a clean plastic resealable bag where it is kept until it can be washed and cleaned. Do not store the mask around the arm or wrist or pull it down to rest around the chin or neck.

• Perform hand hygiene immediately afterward discarding a mask.

• Do not re-use single-use mask.

 • Discard single-use masks after each use and properly dispose of them immediately upon removal. • Do not remove the mask to speak.

• Do not share your mask with others.

• Wash fabric masks in soap or detergent and preferably hot water (at least 60° Centigrade/140° Fahrenheit) at least once a day. If it is not possible to wash the masks in hot water, then wash the mask in soap/detergent and room temperature water, followed by boiling the mask for 1 minute.

This applies “regardless of whether a distance of at least one meter can be maintained,” according to the recommendations updated on Wednesday.

The RKI recommends “generally ensuring sufficient air exchange indoors with a supply of fresh air”. This could be achieved somewhat by regular ventilation.

WHO doubts the benefit of masks
Despite the new recommendations, the WHO maintains that the benefit of general mask wearing in healthy people has not yet been clearly demonstrated.

It states: “There is currently limited and conflicting scientific evidence on the effectiveness of mask wearing in healthy people to prevent infections with respiratory viruses, including sars-CoV-2,” it says in the paper.

A study published in November with 4862 participants, some of whom wore masks and some of whom did not, found no difference in infections with the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2.

However, smaller studies have shown that wearing a mask in contact with infected persons significantly reduces the risk of infection.

Other studies have compared regions with and without the obligation to wear masks and have found a decrease in Covid-19 disease where masks were worn.

  • hector pascua

Sources
WHO: Mask use in the context of COVID-19; accessed on 3.12.2020, https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/337199/WHO-2019-nCov-IPC_Masks-2020.5-eng.pdf. picture: pixabay.com

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