FACTS ABOUT COVID-19: Using Face Masks And Alcohol-Based Sanitizers.
The media has played a very important role in providing accurate information on the pandemic but the incessant need for more information makes most people resort to other easy-to-access channels for information such as the social media.
However, the problem with social media is that anybody at all can put any information there whether factual or not. Fact-check Ghana presents you with verified information on COVID-19. In this edition, the focus is on Face Masks and Alcohol-based Sanitizers.
How to use and care for Face Masks
Face masks have become a very essential protective wear in the last few months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also indicated that one of the major ways in which the coronavirus can be transmitted is through respiratory droplets. Wearing face masks is one of the ways to prevent these droplets from spreading from an infected person to others.
The WHO and other international health agencies recommend that all people, regardless of their COVID-19 status, should use face masks to prevent being infected or infecting other people.
Different Types of Face Masks
There are different types of face masks, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, there are three basic types that have been approved by food and drugs administration organizations worldwide. They are the N95, surgical and cloth masks. It must be noted that the properties of materials used to make the different types of face masks may also affect how easily one can breathe through them, and how effective they can be.
The food and drugs organisations have recommended that the general public can use the cloth face mask. However, specific guidelines must be followed when making cloth masks at home. The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in Ghana recommends the following guidelines:
1. Fabric used for face masks should be free from all chemicals. According to the FDA, in an event that printed fabric is used, the layer of the fabric in direct contact with the face should be plain fabric that is free from chemicals.
2. To be effective, face masks generally must be able to filter out particles and still be easy to breathe through. In the absence of propylene, which is the common material used for medical grade face masks, 100% cotton or cotton blends possess good material characteristics for homemade face masks.
Safety tips on using face masks
Face masks are supposed to protect one from getting the virus. However, if certain basic tips are not put in place during its use, it can rather make someone get infected or spread the coronavirus even further. Here are some basic tips that have been recommended by the CDC of the United States, Healthline and the FDA in Ghana to pay attention to when wearing and cleaning face masks:
1. Before putting on a face mask, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap under running water, or rub your hands together thoroughly with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Make sure to check for defects such as tears in the face masks before wearing.
3. If the material of the mask has patterns or colours, position the colored or patterned side of the mask outward.
4. Ensure your mouth and nose are fully covered.
5. Make sure to allow for breathing without any restriction to avoid suffocation.
6. Reusable homemade face masks should be properly washed, before reuse. Used homemade face masks must first be disinfected; then washed with soap or detergent until clean, rinsed under running water; dried in the open sun, and ironed before reuse.
7. Do not touch the outer part of your mask at any point in time and ensure that you are the only one handling your face mask.
How to use alcohol-based sanitizers
Using alcohol-based hand sanitizers is one of the main ways prescribed by major health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO),Africa Center for Disease Control and the American Center for Disease Control as a means to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The WHO gives the following guidelines on how to safely use alcohol-based hand sanitizers:
When using the hand sanitizer, apply an amount the size of a coin, it is not necessary to use more than that amount.
After using your hand sanitizer, avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, mouth and nose immediately to prevent any irritations from occurring.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the only ones recommended to protect you against COVID-19 and the alcohol in these sanitizers can easily catch fire. It is not safe to use them before handling fire or cooking.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be poisonous! Under no circumstances should these sanitizers be drank or swallowed by children or anyone else.
Store your alcohol -based hand sanitizers carefully.
Keep your alcohol-based sanitizers out of the reach of your children.
Teach your children how to use the hand sanitizer and monitor when and how they use it
Remember that in the absence of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, washing your hands properly with soap and running water is also effective against COVID-19. These practices should all be enforced together with other outlined safety protocols by the Ghana Health Service.
Supported by the Media Foundation for West Africa under its COVID-19 response project