Treat your mask ‘like your underwear’ say health chiefs

Reporter: Charlotte Green
Date published: 25 January 2021


‘Treat your mask like your underwear’ say health chiefs as they urge people to keep washing and changing face coverings to protect from coronavirus.

A GP and public health professional in Oldham have both re-emphasised the importance of continuing to wear masks and face coverings throughout the pandemic.

The latest scientific evidence suggests that Covid-19 is being spread by both droplets and aerosols – moisture particles from a person which are spread in the air by breathing, sneezing, coughing and talking.

Katrina Stephens, Oldham’s director of public health, said that ideally single use masks would be replaced every day, and reusable ones would also be washed daily after use.

She explained it is also crucial to clean or sanitise your hands before putting on a mask and after taking it off, and to try and avoid touching a mask while wearing it.

“One of the pieces of advice I’ve heard previously is treat your mask like your underwear, don’t share it, change it every day ideally and make sure you’re washing it regularly,” she said.

“I know I find all those things really difficult to do so we just have to keep reminding ourselves that that’s really important in ensuring that we maximise the safety of masks.

“Masks continue to be really important and they’re really important is stopping you passing the virus on to someone else. 

“One of the real challenges with Covid is that we know people can have it and not have symptoms and still pass it on. 

“And given that this does have this sort of silent but potentially deadly element to it, masks play a really important role in our strategy to stop the spread.”

Dr John Patterson, the chief clinical officer at Oldham’s CCG, said that new research has shown that simply talking can be as infectious as coughing if you are not using a face covering in an enclosed space.

“I have to tell you that every doctor and nurse that I know wears masks and covers their faces, and even those with asthma and those who struggle a bit, they cover their faces,” he added.

“But masks are so effective, almost you’d encourage bad face covering rather than no face covering.

“So if you are turning up to the shops and you suddenly see that the only mask you have is the one you used yesterday, I would rather you put that mask on.

"It’s not perfection but it is better.

“It’s not great if you share a mask, but apart from mask sharing, almost every other naughty, bad, imperfect use of face covering is better than not covering your face.”


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