CIRCULAR H46 OF 2020: BEST PRACTICE GUIDANCE FOR THE USE OF CLOTH MASKS ONLY IN NON-HEALTHCARE SETTINGS:
- Cloth masks offer better protection than when no mask is worn. They are most effective if worn in conjunction with practising other prevention methods such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and clean environment.
- Cloth masks will not necessarily protect the wearer but may help to reduce viral transmission by containing respiratory droplets generated when the wearer speaks, sneezes and coughs.
- All masks provide a physical barrier when covering the wearer’s nose and mouth7 and may reduce inhaling a large number of droplets. While cloth masks are considered less effective than medical/ surgical face masks, these will provide a physical barrier to reduce expulsion and inhalation if the cloth mask is made of a heavy, tight weave.
- Cloth masks act as a physical barrier and may help to stop people from touching their face, mucous membranes and mouth
- Cloth masks may reduce virus exposure in overcrowded areas such as taxis, shops of government buildings
- Cloth masks will create greater awareness around COVID-19
When should cloth masks be used
- Cloth masks can be used by the community or non-healthcare work and where no physical contact is expected
- By the general public when outside the home or in crowded areas
- During self-isolation in shared accommodation, when contact with others is necessary such as having meals together (remember distancing in the social circle)
- When providing retail services
- When travelling as passengers in conjunction with distancing measures
- When conducting interviews during house to house visits (community health workers)
- When stopping and talking to members of the public (traffic police)
- When cleaning the streets of domestic rubbish (municipal workers)
- When attending social/cultural ceremonies and large gatherings
When can cloth masks NOT be used
- Cloth masks should NEVER be used by health care workers dealing directly with patients i.e. at the clinical interface
- Many non-health organizations already have PPE policies in place, such as for municipal workers, and these must be followed in order to protect the worker.