Improper Use Of Masks Can Increase COVID-19 Risks

Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Westmoreland Health Department, Gerald Miller, is reminding residents of the parish that improper use of face masks can increase their risk of contracting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Miller, in an interview with Jamaica Government news agency JIS, said that while it is commendable that many individuals are playing their part to contain the spread of COVID-19 by wearing masks, in many cases the devices are not being worn correctly, which can affect how well they protect themselves and others from the virus.

“I notice that some persons are wearing their mask underneath their chin. The mask must be used to cover the mouth and the nose and I also see people with the mask on their forehead. That is not something that we should be practising, and if you are doing that, then you are defeating the purpose of wearing the mask, which is to protect you from inhaling or expelling droplets, which can put you and others at risk,” he explained.

He said that persons should also ensure that their hands are properly washed or sanitised before donning the mask.

Miller said that one common mistake that people make is to fidget with their mask.

“When the mask is put on, you should not be touching the face of the mask with your hands, because… if your hands are dirty, you could contaminate the mask,” he noted.

To remove the mask, persons should pull the straps or ties around the ears and be careful not to touch the front. In the case of single-use masks, these should be disposed of immediately and the hands thoroughly washed.

He is advising that masks should not be worn for more than four hours and should be replaced with a dry, clean cover once they become damp.

He said that in addition to wearing masks, persons should practise measures such as social distancing, frequent washing of hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, as part of safeguards against COVID-19.

On April 20, the Government announced the mandatory wearing of masks in public spaces to help curtail the spread of the virus.