A 44-year-old male confirmed to have had the novel coronavirus passed away in the Philippines on February 1—the first death reported outside of China. Travel to and from China, Hong Kong, and Macau is now under a temporary ban, and it seems people are doing all they can against infection. If you're wondering how to properly use face masks—especially amidst all the news and supposed advisories going around-then check out the World Health Organization's release on the matter.
The publication details the hows and whens of using "medical masks in communities, at home and at health care facilities" in places where there are confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
What's the proper way to wear a face mask?
First things first: The typical surgical mask should only be worn one way. "The blue one is on the outside. It's supposed to be the water-repellant side. The white is the absorbent [side] so when you sneeze, it gets absorbed there," said Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, according to a GMA News Online report. Don't forget to press the wire on top gently to your nose to help keep it from falling!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) advisory, it must cover both the mouth and nose and should be tied securely enough to allow only the smallest possible gap between the face and mask. Refrain from touching the mask as much as possible, and after removal, treat it as a dirty object. Remove it by holding only the straps and clean hands after throwing it away. Don't re-use single-use masks.
When should you wear a face mask?
Although face masks have become more frequently used, the World Health Organization notes that it isn't actually needed for those without respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing), "as no evidence is available on its usefulness to protect non-sick persons." Face masks are intended to contain possible infection and are definitely required for those showing any signs of the sickness.
Is wearing a face mask enough?
To put it simply, face masks alone are not enough to prevent infection. It is just one protective measure and should be just one of your practices, notes the advisory. Other measures include constant cleaning of hands and staying at least one meter away from persons showing respiratory symptoms (that's around three feet, btw).
Face masks may create also create a "false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures," warns the advisory. So be sure you're wearing it right and practicing all possible methods of prevention.