The provincial Department of Health is advising everyone to wear masks especially if they move around in public.
Masks are not the only solution in the fight against Covid-19 and must accompany other good hygiene practices.
The most important thing everyone should do is:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and safely throw away the tissue
- Keep a distance of 1,5m from others
- If you are ill, stay at home, or arrange for a health assessment
Wearing a mask does not remove all the risk of contracting Covid-19.
Don’t use medical masks
The Western Cape Government’s top priority is to ensure that front-line health workers, who are caring for those with Covid-19, have the required N95 respirators and medical masks so that they are protected when undertaking their duties and helping to save lives.
There is a global shortage of these masks so residents should not obtain or use these, so that there are enough for healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics.
A cloth mask, if appropriately used and cleaned, offers the following protection:
- The mask will reduce the transmission of droplets from the source (any person coughing or sneezing)
- It will reduce inhaling a large number of droplets from others
- It will reduce exposure in overcrowded areas such as taxis, shops or government buildings.
When to use a cloth mask
- Travel to and from work in public transport
- When leaving home to shop or seek healthcare
- In self-isolation when contact with others is necessary (remember physical distancing)
- When talking to others in public.
Using a mask correctly
Wash your hands before applying and after removing a mask. Don’t touch the cloth part, never fiddle with it while wearing it and don’t touch your face. Discard disposable masks and wash cloth masks with warm soapy water and iron when dry.
It is very important to use a cloth mask properly. If masks are not properly used this can contribute to spreading Covid-19. The simple guidelines are:
- Only use a mask that has been cleaned and ironed
- Place the mask with the correct side facing your nose and mouth and covering both well
- 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, don’t 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 that is only used for washing the cloth mask.
- Wash hands thoroughly and dry before doing anything else
- Don’t share your mask with others.
Maintaining the mask
Have two cloth masks per person so you will be able to wash one and have a clean one ready for use.
- Wash the mask daily in soap and hot water
- Rinse thoroughly and dry
- Iron the mask as this is the best means of disinfection!
Make your own mask
A cloth mask is simple to make. The Western Cape Government has called on the people of the Western Cape to make cloth masks in line with the approved cloth mask standard.
There are many videos on YouTube demonstrating how to make them. Here are a few:
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