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What is a mask?
A face mask (mask) covers our nose and mouth. It provides a physical barrier to fluids and large particle droplets. Surgical mask is a type of face mask commonly used.
Why do we need to wear a mask?
When used properly, masks can help prevent infections transmitted by respiratory droplets.
When do we need to wear a mask?
- To protect ourselves : When we care for patients with fever or respiratory infection; or when we visit clinics or hospitals during peak season or pandemic for influenza.
- To prevent the spread of infection to others: When we have respiratory symptoms, e.g. fever, runny nose, cough or sneeze.
How to wear a mask properly?
- Choose the appropriate size of mask.
- Always perform hand hygiene before putting on a mask.
- The mask should fit snugly over the face:
3.1 Face the coloured side of the mask outwards with the metallic strip uppermost. For those masks that do not have a coloured side, place the síde with folds facing downwards and outwards.
3.2 Position the elastíc bands or strings properly to keep the mask snugly in place.
3.3 Mould the metallic strip to the bridge of the nose and face.
3.4 Extend the mask to cover the chin so that the nose, mouth and chin are fully covered.
- Avoid touching the mask once it is secured on our face. Always perform hand hygiene before and after touching the mask.
How to take off a mask properly?
- Replace the mask immediately if it is damaged or soiled; and change it at least on a daily basis.
- Before taking off the mask, perform hand hygiene.
- While taking off the mask, avoid touching or handling the mask as it may be covered with germs.
- Do not reuse a mask. Dispose of the used mask in a plastic or paper bag, or lidded rubbish bin.
- Perform hand hygiene again.
What else to note?
Wearing mask is just one of the ways to prevent respiratory tract infections. We should also adopt the following preventive measures to minimise the spread of infection:
- Perform frequent and proper hand hygiene.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Maintain cough manners.
- Stay away from possible sources of infection:
4.1 Avoid visiting crowded places. If this is necessary, minimise the length of stay. Persons at a high risk of having infection-related complications, e.g. pregnant women or persons with chronic illnesses, should consider wearing masks.
4.2 Avoid close contact with those who are infected. Do not rely on the use of face masks.
- If you are sick, stay at home and minimise contact with others.