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How to make face masks at home using fabric during coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has outlined how you can make a fabric face mask at home during the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

There is mixed guidance over whether wearing a face mask prevents a person contracting the virus – with the World Health Organization this week saying other measures should also be adopted to prevent exposure.

But the CDC is still advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the disease, and do not know it, from transmitting it to others.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as it adds, these are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

See the images below for a step by step guide on making a mask.

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One way to make a face mask (Image: www.cdc.gov)

The CDC also advises that when wearing a cloth mask, they should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be put in washing machine without damage or change to shape

How to make a face mask using a bandana (Image: www.cdc.gov)

A more complex option (Image: www.cdc.gov)

The World Health Organization (WHO) adds that you should wear a mask if you are coughing and sneezing.

It also states that masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

WHO’s guidelines say:

  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly. 
  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Place the mask carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, and tie it securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
  • Remove the mask using the appropriate technique: do not touch the front of the mask but untie it from behind.
  • After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, clean hands using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.
  • Do not re-use single-use masks.
  • Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removal.

It advises these other measures to prevent contracting coronavirus:

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why?  When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the Covid-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why?  Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why?  Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

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Coronavirus outbreak

Why?  National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why?  National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

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