New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently released an elaborate list of things to do and not do while using and dumping masks amidst the coronavirus outbreak. The ministry has done this to provide evidence-based information to the people to tackle COVID-19. According to MoHFW, masks should not be used by healthy persons who are not having any symptoms or are not interacting with an infected person as it creates a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as the washing of hand. However, if one gets the symptoms or wants to use masks, here is all one must be aware of.
For those unsure about which mask to choose, MoHFW says,
Medical masks of different sizes and shapes are available in the market. The common ones are flat pleated masks of woven fabric which covers the nose and mouth and affixed behind the head with straps/ elastic fasteners. There are also conical or duck bill shaped masks with valves (or without valves) that fit in the contour of face over the nose and mouth, but are costlier.
According to the health ministry, a person must use medical three layer masks if they develop a cough or fever. Such a mask will prevent the infection from spreading to others.
Masks must also be used while visiting a healthcare facility and while taking care of an ill person.
The guidelines state that a medical mask, if properly worn, will be effective for 8 hours but if it gets wet in between, it needs to be changed immediately.
The guidelines also elaborate on the proper procedure of wearing a mask. It says,
Unfold the mask and make sure that it is facing down. Place over nose, mouth and chin. Fit flexible nose piece (a metallic strip that can easily be located) over nosebridge. Secure with tie strings (upper string to be tied on top of head above the ears – lower string at the back of the neck). Ensure there are no gaps on either side of the mask, adjust to fit.
It further instructs that while in use, the mask should not be touched and should not be left hanging from the neck.
It says that to remove mask first untie the string below and then the string above and handle the mask using the upper strings without touching the mouth portion of the mask.
About the proper disposal of the used mask, the guidelines direct that the used mask should be considered as potentially infected. Masks used by patients / care givers/ close contacts during home care should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution and then disposed of either by burning or deep burial.
The guidelines laid by the MoHFW state that there is no scientific evidence to show the health benefit of using masks for non-sick persons in the community. It further says that the erroneous use of masks or continuous use of a disposable mask for longer than 6 hours or repeated use of the same mask may actually increase the risk of getting an infection.
Coronavirus Outbreak In India
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as of today, March 16 at 4 PM, 114 people including 17 foreign nationals in India have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Many steps have been taken by the government at the state as well as the central level to tackle the pandemic. To avoid catching the virus, the Ministry has advised to practice social distancing and maintain utmost hygiene. It has suggested to refrain from touching face, mouth, nose and eyes as well as washing hands regularly with soap for 40 seconds each time or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 70 per cent alcohol must be used for 20 seconds.
अाइए मिलकर साधारण और स्वस्थ आदतें अपनाएं, जैसे हाथ धोना, शिष्टाचार के साथ खांसना और सार्वजनिक स्थान में न थूकने के संकल्प के साथ। ये हमें #coronavirus से सुरक्षित रखने में मदद करेंगे।#SwasthaBharat#HelpUsToHelpYou#COVID19india pic.twitter.com/iyZ0PK6LlW
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) March 9, 2020