It's been one of the most frequently asked questions since the coronavirus developed into a global pandemic: should I be wearing a face mask? The British public are advised to wear face coverings when in public – a stance also taken by officials at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States. Yet, some people are still unsure about what is the correct way to wear a face mask during this pandemic.
While the efficacy of masks against the spread of COVID-19 was is still up for debate towards the start of the pandemic, it's now clear that wearing a face covering does help to slow the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 virus is usually spread by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking which can also be picked up from surfaces. According to experts, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances when used correctly, helping to protect others.
One thing experts seem to agree on is that any mask is better than no mask. While PPE and high-grade medical masks should still be prioritised for medical staff and carers, and masks and cloth face coverings can be made using common home supplies, , some experts believe that the new variant is cause for upgrading your mask materials. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Vox that when it comes to avoiding an infection, “a surgical mask is better than a cloth mask, a tight-fitting surgical mask is better than a loose-fitting mask, and an N95 is better than a surgical mask.” Frieden added that: “The fact that [the new variants] are so infectious suggests to me having a better mask is a good idea.” If you're interested in making your own, gov.uk has instructions on how to do so.
Whatever kind face mask you have, it's important to make sure you are using it in the correct way. Stay as safe as possible by avoiding common mistakes with this easy step-by-step checklist.