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The dos and don’ts of wearing masks in our fight against COVID-19

Nina Loasana

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, March 5, 2020  /  11:12 am
The dos and don’ts of wearing masks in our fight against COVID-19

Students wear masks as they work in a coffee shop on March 3, 2020 in Bangkok, amid general fear over the spread of COVID-19. The WHO says that healthy people don't need to wear masks. But if you want to, you want to make sure you're doing it right. (AFP/Mladen ANTONOV)

The price of face masks in Indonesia has skyrocketed due to growing demand since Monday, when the President announced the country’s first two confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Amid public concerns over the possibility of an outbreak occuring in the country, many people been rushing to buy face masks as drugstores and shops are finding it increasingly difficult to replenish their stock.

But can face masks really protect you from the novel coronavirus?

The World Health organization (WHO) asserts that there is no need for healthy people to wear a mask, and recommends their use only for people who are ill – especially anyone who is coughing or sneezing – and those caring for suspected cases of COVID-19, particularly health workers and those sharing living space with someone in self-isolation.

Read also: In anxious Jakarta, box of face masks worth more than gram of gold

Also, keep in mind that the more the public goes on a buying frenzy and depletes the stock of masks in the country, the fewer there are for the people on the frontline: the doctors, nurses, technicians and administrative staff at hospitals and other healthcare facilities who are there to treat everyone who gets sick – including people with health conditions other than COVID-19.

It's also important to note that face masks are only effective in preventing COVID-19 infection when used in conjunction with maintaining hand hygiene: frequent hand-washing with soap and water or cleaning the hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The WHO's dedicated webpage even provides detailed instructions and videos on how to do this properly.

Here are the WHO's six steps on how to wear face masks and dispose of them correctly:

  1. Clean your hands with hand sanitizers or wash your hands with soap and water before putting on a mask.
  2. Check the mask to see whether there are any tears or holes on it.
  3. Make sure the mask covers your nose, mouth and chin, with no gaps between your face and the mask.
  4. Avoid touching the mask while you are wearing it. If you do touch it, immediately clean your hands with hand sanitizer or wash them using soap and water.
  5. Do not reuse a single-use mask. If your mask gets wet or becomes damp, replace it immediately.
  6. Do not touch the front of your mask when removing it. Remove it from behind, and immediately throw away the mask in a garbage bin with a lid. Wash or clean your hands immediately afterwards.

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If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak