So you have to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus? Wondering how to choose one? Or if it will slip off, or be suffocating? While masks are everyday accessories in parts of Asia, for those not accustomed to wearing them the experience can be unnerving, even daunting.
Here are some tips for the uninitiated:
Unless you are a frontline health worker you do not need a high-spec respirator like the N95 or FFP2, experts say. Leave those for the professionals. When it comes to other types of masks, the advice has shifted with the understanding of the epidemic.
Initially, health authorities and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it was useless for the general population to wear masks in public.
Now it is increasingly recommended as part of the public health toolbox, along with frequent handwashing and physical distancing. With medical personal protective equipment off the table, authorities have suggested people buy or make fabric face coverings. The WHO has expressed doubts that these will offer full protection for the wearer, but notes that they could stop an unknowingly infected person from passing the virus on to others.
This matters because a significant minority of people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms at all. Those wanting to make their own masks have no shortage of tutorials online to turn to for inspiration. The website of the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has instructions for how to make a no-sew mask by cutting up a T-Shirt.