More and more countries are imposing the obligatory wearing of face masks in public places. Regulations on the use of face masks are particularly strict in Europe and in Malta no less. By legal imposition masks have to be worn in five different places, including shops. However, Health Authorities are stating that unless the mask is worn properly, it may still be a source of damage.
The use of masks and social distancing of two metres drastically reduces the incidence of Coronavirus infection transmissions between persons. The Director of the Directorate for the Promotion of Health and the Prevention of Illness, Dr Paula Vassallo, explained the mask has to cover the nostrils, the mouth and the chin and has to be tight against the face.
In recent weeks more and more people have taken to wearing masks not only because they are obliged to in public places, however, it has been noticed that quite a few are not wearing the mask as they are supposed to and this causes them greater risk as well as to those around them.
Dr Vassallo said if the mask is worn under the nose, microbes from people one is talking to can travel up in your nose and spread the virus. If it is worn under the chin this means that the nose and the mouth is also not covered and protected.
She insisted a mask should not be handled from the front because this is the area that is most infection-prone. Some tended to finger the front of their mask and then when they remove the mask finger their face and this is a calamity because microbes are being transferred to the nose and mouth surfaces and increase the risk.
In addition, before the mask is worn, one should wash hands with soap and water or the use of a sanitizer.
Dr Vassallo said a mask should be removed by the loops and discarded and should not be placed on a table or a surface because it may transmit infection.
She said masks made of cloth should be washed every time after they are worn and these may be washed in a washing machine together with items of clothing. By the same measure, visors should be rubbed with alcohol every time they are used.
By legal stipulation, masks or visors must be worn in shops, on public transport, on crossings between Malta and Gozo including the Ċirkewwa and Mġarr terminals, at the International Airport and passenger terminals for the catamaran and for cruise liners.
The Health Authorities insist that masks and visors must not be worn by children aged three or under.