CAPE TOWN – With more rain showers and storms expected across the country, health experts are urging users to change their face covering, if it gets wet because its effectiveness lessens.
This week the South African Weather Service issued several alerts for severe thunderstorms leading to hail and localised flooding in Johannesburg and other parts of the country.
According to South African Weather Service (SAWS) forecaster Ayanda Nsele, the cold and wet weather was not expected to abate soon in KwaZulu-Natal. Nsele further added that residents should brace themselves for more cold and rainy conditions this week.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines face masks which get wet should be replaced straight away.
“For any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are as effective as possible and to avoid any increase in transmission,” says the WHO.
Karol Sikora, a former official in the WHO’s cancer programme, said the moisture makes masks porous and because of this all types of mask are essentially vulnerable in damp weather
“I think the public generally lacks any knowledge or guidance on this issue. They should be given clear advice by the authorities, particularly given the current spell of heavy rain. It is important that we know to change our masks if they become damp at all – higher-priced masks do not have different rules,” said Sikora.
The Department of Health says it is very important that cloth masks are used correctly. Incorrect use might result in users putting themselves at risk of spreading Covid-19.
“Masks should be washed with soap and hot water, rinsed thoroughly and ironed. Individuals must have at least two cloth masks per person so you will be able to wash one and have a clean one ready for use,” said the department.
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