- An advisory has been put out on the use of homemade protective cover
- These handmade masks, however, are not meant for health workers
- Experts say homemade masks are effective if right material is used
New Delhi: With the number of cases increasing for COVID-19 in India every day and mounting evidence that the virus responsible, SARS-CoV-2, can be spread by the infected person even before they develop any symptoms, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on April 3 that every person is needed to wear a cloth mask or coverings if stepping out in public places. Soon, the directions were followed by India and on April 4, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare put out a detailed advisory for homemade masks and how one can make it at home. The Union Health Ministry advisory said, “To slow the spread of coronavirus, it is suggested that people who are not suffering from medical conditions or having breathing difficulties may use the handmade reusable face cover, particularly when they step out of their house. These handmade masks, however, are not meant for health workers or those working with or in contact with COVID -19 patients or those who are patients themselves as they are required to wear specified protective gear.”
Amid the concerns related to coronavirus pandemic, NDTV speaks with doctors to know are homemade masks really effective? If yes, what material one should use to make a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) homemade mask.
Dr Manoj Goel, Pulmonologist, Fortis Hospital says,
Homemade masks can protect you from getting an infection. You can either use a handkerchief or a bandana or can simply use a towel. But what is important is that you have your mouth covered when you step outside your house. Coronavirus is a very new virus and till now, across the world, everyone is trying to find out solutions to deal with it. One of the most important cure of this infection is maintaining the right kind of personal hygiene.
On the other hand, Dr Surender Purohit, Ophthalmologist, Michigan adds,
Think of you and others as the carriers, once you see everyone around you as the carrier of the infection, you will automatically take necessary precautions. We have seen in the recent past that most of the COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show symptoms for the infections at all, which means at some point they will be doing activities like a healthy person like stepping out in public, but the fact is they are still the carrier of the infection and can infect many around them. In this scenario what works best is that people should come out wearing homemade cotton masks.
What Materials You Should Use For Preparing Homemade Mask?
After US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using homemade masks, Wake Forest Baptist Health (medical center located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) studied the effectiveness of using homemade masks with different materials. The researchers in the study claim that the best-performing design for homemade mask which seems to be effective in filtration process is constructed of two layers of high-quality, heavyweight “quilter’s cotton” (fabric used for making a quilt) with a thread count of 180 or more, and those with especially tight weave and thicker thread. A double-layer mask with a simple cotton outer layer and an inner layer of flannel also performs well. Whereas, the inferior homemade masks are those which consist of single-layer or double-layer designs of lower quality, lightweight cotton.
Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist, who conceived the idea for study mentions a pro tip and says,
Hold a fabric which you will make your mask with and do a quick light test. If light passes really easily through the fibers and you can almost see the fibers, it’s not a good fabric. If it’s a denser weave of thicker material and light doesn’t pass through it as much, that’s the material you want to use.
Even the Confederation of Medical Association of Asia and Oceania (CMAAO), which was the first to raise an alarm about coronavirus in January has also recommended a ‘torch test’ for homemade masks. In an official statement put out by the organisation, it said,
The less light that passes through the mask, the more effective it is. Cloth masks may help curb the spread of the infection when used in conjunction with hand washing and physical distancing.
What Precautions You Should Take While Making Homemade Mask?
Dr Manoj Goel, Pulmonologist, backing the recently published guidelines OF the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on homemade masks said,
Hand washing is one of the key guidelines to battle COVID-19 for now and that must be taken very seriously by each one of us. So, if you are preparing a home mask, one of the first steps you should take is to go and wash your hands throughly with water and soap. Followed by washing a piece of cloth that you will be using for making your mask with hot water (preferably) and soap. Also, one should know that one face mask should be useD by one individual only. Even family members should not use each others masks.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, homemade masks can be reused by an individual, for reusing the mask it is advised that one should wash the mask with hot water and soap every second day and dry it out properly in the sun.