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Infectious Diseases

Updated 17 March 2020

Coronavirus: When and how to use masks

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask.

As recommended by the World Health Organization:

When to use a mask

  • If you are healthy, wear a mask if you a caring for a person with a suspected Covid-19 virus infection
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only if you continue basic hygiene measures – frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • It's not just about wearing a mask, knowing how to use it and dispose of it properly is important

How to put on, use, take off and dispose of a mask

  • Remember to put on a mask with clean hands – use soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser before
  • Be sure to put on the mask properly and ensure that you cover your mouth and nose. There must be no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Don't touch the mask while wearing it. If you haven't been able to avoid touching it, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Be sure to replace masks as soon as they become damp, and don't re-use single-use masks.
  • Don't touch the front of the mask when removing it – remove it from behind only. It needs to be discarded immediately in a closed bin.
  • After discarding it, clean your hands once again.

Image credit: Getty Images