The defining image of the COVID-era is arguably the face mask. The coverings have become part and parcel of everyday life, even with restrictions coming to an end. It’s been a long journey since March 2020, and precautions are still being advised in some settings.
Face masks in South Africa
Many experts believe that wearing a mask in public spaces is a ‘vital measure’ that allows society to function with a high degree of normality. The SA government’s messaging on this – where they portray mask-wearing as a selfless act – is in line with WHO guidance
“A fabric mask can protect others around you, should you have the virus. To protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19, remember to keep at least one-metre distance from others, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your face and mask.”Guidelines from the World Health Organisation
Am I wearing it wrong?
The Department of Health has a helpful list of ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to mask etiquette in South Africa. A wrongly-worn face covering can be as useless as wearing nothing at all. In total, there are six important things to avoid:
- Proper fitting: Ensure that your mask isn’t too loose, nor that it is so tight you cannot breathe. You have to find a balance.
- Cover everything: Your mask has to cover your mouth and nose. Exposing your nose exposes you to viruses.
- Keep your distance: Don’t take your mask off if you are within close proximity of other people indoors.
- Sharing is far from caring: You must not allow anyone else to use your mask, nor can you give yours to another person.
- Mask condition: If your face-covering is wet, dirty, or damaged, it’s probably best to find another one.
- Hands off the mask: You are advised against touching your mask while it is on your face.
Wearing a mask is important, but are you wearing it safely? Check out these do’s and dont’s on how to wear your mask safely. pic.twitter.com/lXcY8km8hc— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) October 18, 2020