Citing a spike in coronavirus cases in Cyprus and a decision to make face masks mandatory for everyone aged over 12 in many indoor areas, the health ministry on Thursday issued revised instructions on the correct use of masks.
These were drawn up by the scientific team advising the government on Covid-19 in cooperation with the health ministry’s epidemiological monitoring unit, it said.
Here are the main points from the announcement:
Why should we wear a mask?
The wearing of masks in the community (except in health facilities) aims at significantly reducing the spread of Covid-19. This is particularly important indoors where the virus load could rise if the infected person is in close proximity.
The use of mark may create a false sense of security which could lead to slacker compliance with other individual protection measures. It is important to continue to adhere to all these measures, irrespective of the mask, such as social distancing, hand washing, avoiding touching face with hands, proper ventilation of indoor areas etc.
What kind of mask should you wear?
Depending on the case, a medical mask (plain surgical mask) or a non-medical mask that satisfies quality criteria as set by the Consumer Service. These include handmade masks and face coverings from cloth or other material. These are not intended for use in health facilities.
Face shields are not included in face masks and can be used ONLY as an additional protective layer above the mask and not on their own. Moreover, high protection (FFP2/FFP, PITTA and masks with a valve) are not recommended within the community.
Plain surgical masks are mainly used by health professionals therefore in the event of a shortage they should have priority.
When should one chose a plain surgical mask in the community (and avoid non-medical ones)?
- In cases where there is a significant risk of infection (vulnerable groups) in which case it can serve as protection
- In cases with symptoms compatible with Covid-19 such as cough, temperature, difficulty breathing, sore throat, fatigue, lack of taste or smell etc. Other symptoms are nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting and In the event of such symptoms, individuals should wear a mask irrespective of whether they are indoors or outdoors and contact their personal doctor.
Correct steps to put on and remove a mask
- Hand hygiene before putting on the mask
- Put on the mask to cover the nose, mouth and chin
- If there is a metal piece, press on to the nose
- Secure with strap at the back of the head or around the ears
- Avoid touching mask with hands after wearing or wash hands before doing so
- Remove the mask slowly and carefully, using the lower straps first.
- Wash hands
- Dispose of in a bin if one-use, or store in a bag or closed container until it is washed, if it is reusable. A paper bag is preferable.
Instructions for non-medical masks (and cloth masks)
o use of cloth mask that is at least 2 layers
o cotton is recommended
o mask must cover the face from the chin to the nose
o it should adapt to the face to ensure unimpeded breathing
Users of reusable non-medical masks must strictly adhere to the storage, washing and reuse instructions of the manufacturer. It is recommended to wash cloth masks daily.
Check the instructions on the label and make sure they can be washed in hot water. Choose textiles that can be washed in hot water of, 60° C, with soap or washing machine detergent. PP masks can be washed at 125° C.