FILE PHOTO Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency /ANA

5 common myths about wearing face masks

Covering your face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your distance. It also doesn’t mean that you’re good to hang out at the park with your friends as long as you’re wearing one.

DURBAN-  According to lockdown Level 4 regulations, South Africans must wear a cloth face mask, a homemade item, or “another appropriate item” that covers your nose and mouth when in a public place.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize reiterated that people should wear cloth face masks. The US Centers for Disease Control recommends the wearing of masks while the World Health Organization is yet to follow this trend.

As the nation enters Level 4 on Friday some regulations have been relaxed to allow people to get out of the house a little more. Guidelines on masks have changed over time but here are the latest common mask myths and what doctors have to say about each one:

Myth #1: Anything covering the nose and mouth will be effective

N-95 masks are most effective for disease prevention, however the South African Government has requested that members of the public stop using surgical masks as they should be reserved for health-care workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face masks and DIY masks are preferable to surgical masks. Face masks made at home are most effective, when they fit your face properly. Be sure that the cloth face masks you’ve created or purchased are wide enough to cover your nose and chin and are snug enough to not create gaps. This tight fit will help keep particles from traveling through the air escaping the gaps.

Myth #2: You don’t have to physically distance if you’re wearing a face mask

Covering your face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your distance. It also doesn’t mean that you’re good to hang out at the park with your friends as long as you’re wearing one; you still need to minimize your contact with other people to that which is absolutely essential and maintain 1.5m distance when in public places.

Myth #3: Wearing a face mask will 100% protect me from Covid-19

Surgical face masks and homemade cloth face masks won’t fully protect you from Covid-19. Their major use is to stop people who are asymptomatic or have recently tested positive from Covid-19 from spreading germs. A face mask will prevent respiratory droplets, to some extent, from infecting someone else, whether in the household or in public.

Myth #4: You can reuse all face masks 

If you’re using a disposable surgical face mask, you can’t keep using it. Cloth face masks can be reused but under strict guidelines. Once the masks are used outside the home, they need to be carefully removed without touching the outside layer, washed immediately in hot/warm soap and water, and left to air dry.

Myth #5: You never have to wear face masks at home

The main purpose of wearing a mask, according to the Center for Disease Control, is to stop you spreading germs. If you’ve tested positive for Covid-19, or any person in your household is vulnerable to getting sick, it may be a good idea to wear them inside. 

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