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Help! How Can I Double Mask Against COVID-19 *Properly*?

DO NOT combine two surgical masks as they are not designed to fit tightly.
PHOTO: Getty Images
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As COVID-19 infections reach record-high in the Philippines, the need to better protect yourself against the virus becomes more essential than ever.

As early as March, the Department of Health said wearing double masks, along with observing strict granular lockdown, can help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus in communities.

The U.S. Center for Disease Prevention and Control recently published a study showing that wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask increases the protection provided by these coverings.

A cloth mask could help improve the fit of a surgical mask and "reduce the receiver's exposure to an aerosol of simulated respiratory droplet particles of the size considered most important for transmitting SARS-CoV-2," according to the study.

"Adding more layers of material to a mask (layering) is a good way to reduce the number of respiratory droplets containing the virus that come through the mask," the CDC said.

While double masks can help improve protection against droplets, there is no policy in the Philippines that mandates the public to wear two masks. At the moment, the government only requires the public to wear face masks and face shields.

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How to double mask properly

When wearing two masks, the CDC recommends using a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric.

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The cloth mask should be used on top of a surgical mask. Doing this would push the edges of the surgical mask closer to your face, improving the fit.

Do not combine two surgical masks as they are not designed to fit tightly. Wearing a second surgical mask over another surgical mask does not help improve the fit.

At the same time, do not wear a KN95 mask over any other mask. A KN95 mask should only be worn one at a time.

The CDC also noted that when using double masks, make sure that you can breathe properly and that your vision is not obstructed.

"Try out any potential techniques for improved mask fit and filtration at home before trying it out in public. For example, try walking around the house or outside for several minutes while wearing a mask with improved fit and filtration to assure that you can breathe comfortably and that your vision is not reduced," it added.

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