Seeing people going to the supermarket or out on their daily exercise wearing a face mask is a common sight.
Guidance regarding wearing face coverings in public could change, with evidence being passed to the government from experts which showcase how face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus - and the Scottish government already recommending wearing face coverings in public.
If advice changes and we’re told to wear face masks, many shops have already sold out. So where can you still get face masks - and is it safe to make your own?
Can I make my own face mask?
You should consider making your own face mask so you don’t contribute to the shortage that is currently affecting the likes of hospitals and other medical centres.
The CDC says that DIY masks can be made as a last resort in times of crisis, and should be used “in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face”.
A study from Smart Air Filters found that tea towels, cotton t-shirts and cotton pillowcases are the best materials to use for making your own DIY face masks - this is due to their ability to capture particles while still remaining breathable.
There are various YouTube instructional videos showing how to make face masks if you're good at sewing.
If you don’t know how to sew, or don’t have access to sewing materials, you can alternatively choose to cut up something like a t-shirt and tie it around your head.
Where can I buy a face mask?
As it stands, surgical supplies for face masks are low, but there are face masks available to buy on Amazon.
When buying a face mask, make sure to follow the advice on how to wear them correctly and how to dispose of them.
How do I wear a mask properly?
If you’re going to wear a face mask, it’s imperative that you know how to wear it properly, otherwise the mask is redundant.
WHO says you should follow these steps:
- Before you even put on the mask, clean your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol based hand rub- Next, cover your nose and mouth with the mask, and make sure that there are no gaps between your face and the mask- Once you have the mask on, avoid touching it while you’re wearing it - if you do touch it, clean your hands again- As soon as the mask becomes damp, replace the mask with a new one - never reuse single use masks- When removing the mask, you should take it off from behind, taking care not to touch the front of the mask, then discard it immediately, and once again, clean your hands
When should I be wearing a mask?
The current WHO coronavirus advice states that “if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection”.
The advice also states that if you are coughing and sneezing, you should wear a mask.
“Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol based hand rub or soap and water,” WHO explained.
Is WHO changing its stance on face masks?
In the coming days, a panel of WHO advisors chaired by Professor David Heymann is set to look into new research that could lead to a change in advice regarding the use of face masks.
A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that the virus could actually be projected further than previously thought, with coughs able to reach 6m and sneezes up to 8m.
Prof Heymann said that if the evidence of this study is supported, then it could turn out that “wearing a mask is equally as effective or more effective than distancing”.