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FAQs

Wearing face masks may protect you from droplets (small drops) when a person with COVID-19 coughs, speaks or sneezes, and you are less than 1.5 metres away from them.

Wearing a mask will also help protect others if you are infected with the virus, whether or not you have symptoms. 

In areas where there is community transmission of COVID-19, you should wear a face mask when visiting busy places like shopping centres or markets, on public transport or in any areas where it is difficult to keep 1.5 metres away from other people.

You can use a cloth mask or a single-use surgical mask. Both types of masks are suitable for use to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks do not need to be surgical quality to be effective.

Cloth masks are any nose and mouth covering made of washable fabric that you can breathe through. Surgical masks are single use, so can’t be washed and used again.

Face masks are recommended for use in the community in many countries to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Your best protection is still to keep 1.5 metres away from other people, to clean your hands thoroughly and regularly with alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) or soap and water, and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with your elbow, or a tissue.

Face masks are helpful in containing droplets when people cough or sneeze, reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus. For the community, both cloth masks and surgical masks are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

You can purchase cloth masks or surgical masks from chemists, hardware stores and other shops or online, or you can make your own.

1. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) before you put on your mask.

2. Hold the mask by its tapes or loops, then tie the mask around your head or put the loops around your ears.

3. Make sure the mask completely covers your mouth and nose, and that there are no gaps between your face and the mask. If you are using a surgical mask, press the nose piece around your nose.

If you are using a mask with ear loops, you can use a plastic clip or tie to join the ends together at the back of your head to make sure it fits securely on your face.

Make sure that your mask does not have holes or a valve, as if you have COVID-19, you can breathe out the virus.

Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth or the front of the mask while wearing it.

If the mask gets soiled or damp, replace it with a new one.

1. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) before you take off your mask.

2. Take the mask off from behind your head by pulling the tapes or loops straightforward and moving the mask away from your face. Do not touch the front of the mask.

3. If you are using a surgical mask, throw the mask in the bin. If you are using a cloth mask, put it straight in the laundry or store used face masks in a plastic bag until you can wash them.

4. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) after you take off your mask and throw it away or store it to wash.

You can take off your mask, once you are away from other people, or in your car on your way home.

You cannot re-use surgical masks.

You can wash and re-use cloth masks. It is a good idea to have at least two, so you will always have a clean one available.

On a single trip away from home there might be times when you can’t stay 1.5 metres away from other people and wear a mask, and times when you can maintain the distance and don’t need to wear a mask. For instance, you might take crowded public transport to and from work, but at work be able to maintain appropriate distancing.

Don’t re-use the same mask to go home that you used on the trip to work. Throw used surgical masks in the bin or store used cloth masks in a plastic bag until you can wash them.   

Re-using a cloth mask without washing it is risky, because it can become contaminated or may not be as effective in protecting you. For each new situation put on a clean mask. Carry your clean masks in a plastic or paper bag to keep them clean.

Cloth masks can be washed in the washing machine with other clothes, or hand-washed using soap and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth.

Dry the cloth mask in the clothes dryer or in fresh air before you re-use it. Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) after handling used face masks.

No, you should keep your face mask on while speaking with other people and maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres.

However, it is important to consider people who are deaf or hard of hearing or cognitively impaired – or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired or cognitively impaired. In these situations, consider a clear face mask or shield or use written communication, where possible.

Face shields may be easier to wear for some people. If face shields are used, ensure they cover your mouth, nose, the sides of your face and below your chin. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Disposable face shields should only be worn once, and thrown in the bin.

No. Masks are not recommended for children and people aged under 18 years, but individual families can make their own decisions regarding their children. Children under two years should never wear a face mask due to choking and strangulation risks.

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