July-20 All About Masks

Know all about face masks

Face masks have become the order of the day as one of the effective ways to arrest the spread of coronavirus. They serve a dual purpose. They protect you from getting directly sprayed with virus on the mouth and nose by infected people in the vicinity. And they protect others from exposure when you talk, sneeze or cough, if you sick or an asymptomatic carrier.

While wearing a mask will reduce the chances of contracting the infection or spreading it, it is still important to maintain social distancing (2 metres) and follow good infection control through hand washing/sanitizing.

Wearing face masks outside of homes has been made mandatory in many states in India, and not doing so attracts fines too. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation said that people should wear face masks and using scarves, dupatta or home-made masks was good enough to keep oneself safe from the virus.

Among the available masks, the N-95 masks provide very good protection and are being reserved for the healthcare workers and those who are with infected people. The general public is urged to use disposal masks, cloth masks or homemade masks for protection.

Types of mask

Type Things to note    
N-95 mask This is primarily meant for healthcare workers or those who are in direct contact with infected persons.
Triple layer or surgical mask These are generally disposable masks that can work effectively for 6 hours.
Cloth mask The cloth should be of thick material for such masks.
Bandana, Scarf or Handkerchief It should be folded in such a way that there are multiple layers of cloth to cover the mouth and nose. Tie it tight so that it sits snugly over your face.

Making your own mask

Since the COVID-19 outbreak and issue of advisories for wearing face masks, many people have come up with great ideas to make or improvise face masks at home. These can be accessed on various media and platforms on the internet. Grahak Sathi brings to you a few ideas to make your own masks. Please refer to videos in the section Eyes and Ears.

Homemade masks or face coverings can be made more effective if some points are kept in mind.

Layering- Make sure that there are multiple layers of fabric in your mask as that reduces the chances of viral particles passing through the mask. Some experts even suggest adding a layer of filter like coffee filter or tissue paper to act as an added protection layer.

Type of fabric- You should use a fabric that is tightly woven and thick so that the virus cannot pass through it. The easiest way to judge if the fabric is good for a mask or not is to hold it up against light. If it is tightly woven, less light will pass through it and therefore it is a good option.  The fabric should also be soft and breathable since you will be using it for a long duration.

Fit- A mask should fit you well, which means it should effectively cover your nose and mouth. It should sit snugly on your face and allow comfortable breathing.


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When to wear a mask when not to


Wear a mask

  • when going to shop for groceries
  • at the gym or exercising outdoors in populated areas
  • at the salon or spa
  • at restaurants
  • when attending religious services
  • at gatherings with friends and extended family

Don’t wear a mask

  • when exercising outside in unpopulated areas
  • at home by yourself or just with family
  • if you have trouble breathing or experiencing shortness of breath


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Sources: www.consumer reports.org/, www.bbc.com/, www.edition.cnn.com/, www.rd.com/

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