When the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) started, health experts strongly advised the public to protect themselves by following the minimum public health standards.
Not all countries impose the same restrictions and some differ in their COVID-19 response. However, compliance to minimum health protocols are constant, and these are the proper wearing of mask and face shield, physical distancing of at least one meter, and regular hand hygiene.
But because of the new COVID-19 variants, people are looking for better ways to protect themselves and, if possible, get double protection.
According to Dr. Dean Zenarosa, resident physician of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), wearing of double mask these days could offer added protection if one does it the right way.
So, what is the correct method?
He shared that if a person is already using a KN95 mask, one should not combine it with any other mask.
“Only use KN95 one at a time,” he said.
Conversely, a person can double mask by wearing a surgical mask underneath the cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.
This was later confirmed by Medical Officer IV Rheuel Bobis, COVID-19 focal person of the Department of Health Ilocos Center for Health Development (DOH CHD-1).
During the recent episode of the Virtual Presser of the PIA Region 1, Bobis stated the general rule in doing double mask as per the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Generally, gagamit lamang ng double mask kung ang gamit ay dalawang cloth mask or cloth mask at medical grade mask,” he said.
Also, he shared that medical grade mask or KN95 masks already have fine pores that can filter large or small particles in the air, thus offer more protection.
Still, Bobis said people can get the most from their mask if they do double mask.
Now that we know that correct and consistent use of face mask is vital to prevent getting infected with COVID-19 spreading it, health experts also advise that proper use, storage, and cleaning of face masks also affect how well they give protection.
According to the CDC, one must follow these steps for putting on and taking off mask:
- Wash or sanitize your hands before and after putting on your mask.
- Place your mask over your mouth and nose and chin.
- Tie it behind your head or use ear loops. Make sure it's snug.
- Don't touch your mask while wearing it.
- If you accidentally touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.
- If your mask becomes wet or dirty, switch to a clean one. Put the used mask in a sealable bag until you can get rid of it or wash it.
- Remove the mask by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.
- Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.
- Regularly wash cloth masks in the washing machine or by hand. (They can be washed along with other laundry.)
And don't forget these precautions:
- Don't put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
- Don't put masks on children under 2 years of age.
- Don't use face masks as a substitute for physical distancing.
The next question is, do we still need to wear a face mask even after we are fully vaccinated?
The answer is still a Yes. We still need to use it both in indoor and outdoor places.
As the Delta variant and other variants of concern are already being detected in the country and in the Ilocos region, people need to be reminded that a face mask is better than any breathing aid devices when infected by COVID-19.
Indeed, prevention is better than cure, or it can also be stated that prevention is better than sorry.
Double mask is needed for double protection against COVID-19.