To counteract the coronavirus epidemic, precise guidelines have been developed by the WHO and the governments. Much has been debated about the usefulness of the mask, when it is necessary and when not, we try to understand better.
Coronavirus, when the mask is needed
According to the WHO, the mask should be worn when you have contracted the virus, when you are showing symptoms that may suggest coronavirus infection or when you are assisting a person who is sick or suspected sick. If you are healthy, if you are not taking care of a sick person and if you respect the guidelines that prohibit gatherings of people and require you to maintain a safety distance between people of at least one meter, preferably two, the mask is not needed. Indeed, wearing it in other cases, such as a healthy person walking alone on the street, causes a mask to be wasted, as the WHO points out. At present there is a very high demand for masks and the offer is not always able to satisfy it, therefore wasting masks means not having them when these could really be useful.
Coronavirus, shawls, scarves or do it yourself masks
As a general line, no, they are not useful to offer a total protection. The only usefulness of a shawl or a bandana can be to limit, at least in part, the scattering of droplets of saliva when speaking or coughing. Of course, this also helps, especially when you are queuing or going to the supermarket, but you shouldn't think to be fully protected or that you are guaranteeing in this way also a total protection to others.
The rules must always be respected, therefore keep the safety distance between people, do not touch your face with dirty hands and wash your hands several times a day with soap and water and complete with a solution of water and alcohol at least 60%.
Coronavirus, how to use the mask in cases of need
As we explained in the previous paragraphs, the mask is to be used only by those who have symptoms of coronavirus, by healthcare professionals and by those who generally take care of a sick person. The mask should not be reused, before putting it on wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use a solution of water and alcohol at least 60%. Check that the mask is intact and wear it taking care that the external side is actually facing out, not towards the face. The mask must adhere to the face and there must be no empty spaces between the mask and the face. To remove the mask, remove the elastic from the ears or undo the elastic that passes behind the head and carefully move the mask away from the face avoiding any contact with skin and clothes as the mask could potentially be contaminated. Immediately throw away the mask after use in a tightly closed bag, wash your hands with soap and water or use a solution of water and alcohol at least 60%. If, while you are wearing the mask, you touch it, wash your hands with soap and water or use a solution of water and alcohol.
Coronavirus, the types of masks
There are several types of masks. Surgical masks protect others from possible sources of infection as they prevent the droplets of saliva from reaching other people. Another thing are the FFP2, FFP3 and N95 masks, these masks are those with valve. These masks are protective only for those who wear them as they filter the incoming air but not the outgoing air and therefore, if a person is infected, could infect others. This clearly if you do not observe social distancing measures and basic hygiene rules such as washing your hands frequently and not touching your face with dirty hands. Valve masks should only be worn by doctors or those with particular respiratory tract diseases.