UNTIL a COVID-19 vaccine is available, facemasks are a necessary part of our daily routine.
According to experts, the primary way the coronavirus spreads is from person to person by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Face masks can block these droplets, acting as a barrier to keep virus-containing particles from escaping an infected individual and landing on another person.
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Using masks is necessary in all public spaces and in enclosed areas where the minimum safety distance between people, set at two meters, cannot be guaranteed. In Andalucia masks have been officially mandatory since July 15 as a measure to prevent the spread and infection of the coronavirus.
The safe use and their proper disinfection is essential.
There are three types of hygienic masks, also known as barrier masks: single-use, disposable and reusable.
In the case of reusable masks, these are made with fabrics -authorised by the Spanish Ministry of Health- wearing it is only half the battle, you also have to wash it.
After their use, it is necessary to clean and disinfect them correctly to maintain their effectiveness.
The Ministry of Health’s recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting reusable masks— of which they give two options— are as follows:
1. Put the reusable hygienic masks in the washing machine, with the usual detergent and a washing cycle at a temperature between 60º and 90º.
This recommendation also applies to clothing.
2. Immerse the masks in a 1:50 dilution of bleach (20ml bleach, 980ml water) with warm water for 30 minutes.
Then wash them with soap, and water and rinse to remove any remaining lye. Air dry.
Steps for safe mask use
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following steps for the safe use of reusable hygienic masks:
- Wash your hands with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic disinfectant gel before picking up the mask.
- Position the mask so it covers your nose and mouth. The mask must be properly fitted, with no gaps.
- Avoid touching it while you are wearing it. If you do, you should immediately wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitiser.
- If you notice that your mask is wet, take it off and put on a clean and dry mask. If it is a disposable mask, throw it away. If it is a reusable mask, wash it following the steps above.
- To remove the mask correctly, take it off by the strips, without touching the front. Remove the rubber from one ear, then the other ear.
- Once you have removed your mask, wash your hands with soap and water or a hydroalcoholic disinfectant gel.