They obviously recommend using the surgical masks but, since it’s hard to find them in stores, they say it’s better to wear a scarf or a homemade masks rather than not wearing anything at all.
Most studies indeed show a benefit of using masks.
At times it can be frustrating and confusing to know what is the right thing to do, especially in the midst of a pandemic where official public announcements have been inconsistent or perhaps even misleading, but many people here in the U.K. are now taking matters into their own hands and have chosen to wear masks before the official public announcements are made.
The World Health Organisation strongly recommends the population to use masks wisely and they recommend the use of medical masks sporadically to avoid unnecessary waste of valuable resources.
They keep on saying that the most effective way to protect yourself from the virus is to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing and keep at least one meter of distance from other people.
They also add that the use of the mask helps to limit the spread of the virus if adopted in addition to other measures of respiratory and hand hygiene.
The practice of using masks was already widespread in many parts of Asia, which some experts say could be one reason that areas like Japan and Taiwan did a better job at controlling the spread of the virus.
Above all, it's of utmost importance that medical personnel and those people at high risk, as well as people who actually have the virus or fear to have been infected by it, wear medical-grade personal protective equipment or PPE.
For everyone else making your own masks, while it won't come with nearly the same level of protection, could be an alternative and possibly reduce considerably the pressure on an overburdened production.
Many people here and elsewhere have a lot of time on their hands these days and they use it to create craft projects because they are stuck inside…maybe you have a job that does not allow you to work from home, or a job that's become more stressful now but some people do have much free time and some use it to make homemade masks like my girlfriend who is literally a professional crafter.
If you have a physical barrier in front of your mouth and nose it’s better although it's unclear if the virus spreads much through airborne droplets.
It's certainly true that the masks stop people from spreading their own droplets when they breathe, talk, sneeze or cough in public and for those who are asymptomatic but positive without knowing it from spreading the infection.
Making a mask is not a bad idea, practically speaking, because the cost is quite low, and the odds of you already owning the materials you need to make one are quite high if you are a crafter.
You probably won't need to go out and purchase something new, and if you do, there are plenty of online options available.
To create these masks, you will need:
- Two triangles of cotton fabric of 18 × 24 cm
- Elastic tape
- A sewing machine
For the realization of the masks my girlfriend opted for a washable fabric you can wash at high temperatures to get an almost sterile result.
It is good to remember that the masks in fabric, not being water-repellent, do not replace surgical masks and they do not guarantee effective and complete protection against the virus but, given the scarcity of the abovementioned masks, the fabric mask, together with compliance with the hygiene rules and the safety distance, is a device that can be useful and certainly better than wearing nothing.