Novel coronavirus (COVID-19): When and how to use a face mask


The World Health Organization has put together key information on wearing of face masks in the context of novel coronavirus (officially named COVID-19). Find out all you need to know about this topic here.

Are you concerned about local or international travel in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak? If you’re deciding on global or local travel to any destination at all, and in particular to a region affected by COVID-19, read on. Here’s what you need to know about travelling abroad from, and returning to, South Africa.

Who should wear a medical mask?

There are two instances in which it is advised that you wear a medical mask:

  1. When you show symptoms of the novel coronavirus - a fever, coughing or sneezing or difficulty breathing. In this case, also seek medical care immediately by calling your medical provider and informing them of your symptoms (call first, before you go to the medical facility to avoid exposing multiple people to a possible case of novel coronavirus).
  2. When you are taking care of a person who has novel coronavirus or COVID-19. You should wear a mask when you are in the same room with the person who has contracted the virus.   

Further, the use of masks are recommended for healthcare workers who are at higher risk of infection than the general public.

How to use a medical mask

Putting the mask on

  1. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water (wash for at least 20 seconds)
  2. Find the metal strip at the top of the mask and place it over the bridge of your nose
  3. Pull out the elastics on either side and secure them behind your ears or tie the masks’ strings securely behind your head.  
  4. Make sure that the mask covers your nose, mouth and chin and fits well. There must be no gaps between your face and the mask.
  5. DO NOT touch the front of your mask while wearing it.  

Removing the mask

  1. Take hold of the elastics from behind your ears or untie the strings behind your head.
  2. DO NOT touch the front of your mask because it may be contaminated with a virus and you will then transmit this onto your hands.
  3. Remove the mask holding the strings or elastics and throw it away into a bin that has a lid. Close the lid.
  4. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water (wash for at least 20 seconds.)

All medical information found on this website including content, graphics and images, is for educational and informational objectives only. Discovery Health publishes this content to help to protect and empower all South Africans by promoting a better understanding of COVID-19.

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