The National Department of Health recommends that everyone in South Africa should wear a cloth face-mask (also known as a non-medical mask) when in public.
Commuters travelling in taxis and other forms of public transport, as well as people spending time in spaces where physical distancing is difficult to practice, are mustwear cloth face-masks.
The main benefit of everyone wearing a face-mask is to reduce the amount of Coronavirus (COVID-19) being coughed up by those with the infection thereby reducing its spread through droplets.
Since some people with the Coronavirus may not have symptoms or may not know they are infected, everyone should wear a facemask.
Cloth face-mask respiratory hygiene
Cloth face-masks are recommended as part of respiratory hygiene or etiquette which also includes coughing and sneezing into a bent elbow or a tissue. The face-mask must cover the nose and mouth completely. Face-masks should not be lowered when speaking, coughing or sneezing.
It is very important that cloth masks are used correctly. Incorrect use might result in users putting themselves at risk of spreading Covid-19.
Even when you are wearing a mask you must still:
- wash your hands
- observe social distancing
- remember to sneeze and cough into your elbow
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands.
The public should not use surgical (medical) or N-95 respirator masks because these are reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
How to handle your cloth mask
- Only use a mask that has been washed and ironed.
- Wash your hands before putting the mask on.
- Place the mask with the correct side facing your face, and ensure that it covers both your nose and mouth properly.
- Tie the strings behind your head, or if you are using elastic bands, make sure these are tight.
- Make sure it fits well. Move it around to get the best fit. Never touch the cloth part.
- Once you have put on the mask, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE again until you take it off.
- When you take it off, undo the ties, and carefully fold the mask inside out, hold it by the strings/elastic and place the mask in a container reserved for washing the cloth mask.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and dry before doing anything else.
- You must have at least two cloth masks per person so you will be able to wash one and have a clean one ready for use.
- Masks should be washed with soap and hot water, rinsed thoroughly and ironed.
The importance of social distancing
In the battle against the highly infectious COVID-19, social distancing is extremely important to help curb the spread of this disease across the country.
Social distancing is about keeping a safe distance of about 2 metres from others so that you reduce the transmission of Covid-19.
This practice is very important while we are in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic where the virus spreads from person to person via an infected person passing droplets through sneezing, coughing or talking.
The implementation of social distancing and the lockdown in South Africa is essential in flattening the curve, which is indicated by the number of infected people dropping.