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The most important thing is to understand why we’re all obliged to keep our faces covered.

1. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that there is no data indicating that wearing a face mask would prevent a healthy individual from getting infected with the virus.

2. But the WHO agrees that masks impact the spread of the virus. There is sufficient data to state that coronavirus is spread by those, who are infected but are not aware of it because they either don’t display any symptoms or they don’t link them to the disease. An obligation to wear a face mask in public will make them cover their faces as well, thus limiting the amount of germs they spread while breathing, talking or sneezing.

3. Therefore, we need to appreciate that we’re wearing a face mask for the sake of other rather than for ourselves – it renders us unable to spread the virus into another person’s face or leave it on surfaces in public which will be touched by others.

4. How to choose a mask? The coronavirus leaves our mouths and noses with saliva or muscus drops when we speak, cough, sneeze or even simply breathe. It takes just a dense enough fabric to stop it. Half a minute is needed to make one, but even a tightly tied scarf will do the trick.

5. The denser the fabric of the mask, the better. You can use a thick cotton shirt to make yours, but a regular bandana will probably be too thin, so it’s better to fold it.

6. You don’t need to buy yourself a medical-grade mask with a filter. For two reasons. First, they’re one-use only and have to be disposed of after use, so you’d need to have a lot of them and it would prove to be a rather pricey option. Second, the professional-grade equipment is needed at the hospitals now, because there is rock-solid evidence that mask are improving staff’s safety when they’re helping infected people.

7. It’s important to realize that a face mask does not make other measures redundant. You still need to wash your hands regularly and keep a distance of 1,5-2 meters from others. WHO warns that wearing a face mask may result in illusion of safety and make us more eager to engage closely with others or may result in lowering the hygiene regime.

Don’t let your guard down: a mask won’t protect you, observing social distancing rules, washing hands often and keeping yourself from touching your face is still the best thing you can do.

8. Be patient, as getting used to having your face covered will take a while. Make sure you’re able to breathe before you leave. A well-fitted mask will make your breathing a bit more difficult, it might not be comfortable and steam up your glasses, but WHO warns that touching it, adjusting, taking on and off might result in increased chance of infection.

9. Wash your hands of use hand sanitiser every time you touch the mask. Remember, one of few benefits of wearing it in public is that it prevents you from touching your face.

10. Be extra cautious while taking the mask off. Make sure you did not touch your mouth, nose of eyes. If it’s a disposable mask, get rid of it immediately. If yours is made of fabric, it’s best to use a laundry machine programme of at least 60’C before reusing it. And wash your hands immediately after managing your mask.

11. Have more than one mask. According to experts, face mask works best when worn for a short period of time. Using the same mask for an entire day can do more damage than good.

12. Who shoud not wear a mask? It’s not obligatory for children younger than four. They should not be worn by those with underlying health conditions such as breathing difficulties. It’s forbidden to put a mask on an unconscious person’s face and to force people with disabilities to wear it if they’re unable to remove it without assistance.

How to prevent glasses from steaming up?

American surgeons have a very simple solution: clean your glasses with water and soap. It will limit the steaming. One might also buy a specialist solution leaving a hydrofobic film on the glasses.

How to fit a mask properly:

  1. Put it on before you leave the house, don’t do it in the street. It applies to taking it off as well – do it when you’re back home.
  2. Wash your hands before putting the mask on. But even then, do your best not to touch the inside of it.
  3. It needs to be as tightly fitted as possible. Make sure you’re able to breathe.
  4. Change the mask when it gets damp, as dampness limits its effectivity. Wash a home-made fabric mask in 60’C and make sure it’s perfectly dry before reusing.
  5. A proper way to remove the mask is from behind – use strings attaching it to your head and do not touch the part that’s on your face.
  6. Wash your hands before and after removing the mask.

How NOT to wear a mask:

  • Do not leave your nose uncovered.
  • Cover most of your nose, not just the tip.
  • Do not leave your chin outside the mask, the lower rim of the mask should be below your chin.
  • Do not leave any space on both sides. The mask needs to be fitted tightly and it’s normal that it will slightly restrict breating.
  • Never take the mask off so it hangs on your neck.
  • Do not use medical masks more than once.

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.

The access to information should be equal for all.

Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation
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