We are seven months into lockdown, and the defining image of the COVID-era is arguably the face mask. The coverings have become part and parcel of everyday life, and the global situation is one that would’ve seemed impossible to fathom at the start of 2020. It’s been a long road so far, and we don’t blame anyone for having ‘pandemic fatigue’.

Face coverings in South Africa

However, there are some daily practices with which we cannot afford to become complacent. Wearing a mask in public is a vital act that allows society to function at a relative degree of ‘normality’. It’s worth remembering that donning a face covering isn’t an act of self-preservation – it’s in place to keep everyone else safe:

“A fabric covering can protect others around you, should you have the virus. To protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19, remember to keep at least one-metre distance from others, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your face-covering.

Guidelines from the World Health Organisation

Am I wearing my mask wrong?

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has shared a helpful list of ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to mask ettiquette in South Africa. A wrongly-worn face covering can be as dangerous as wearing nothing at all. In total, there are six important things to avoid:

  • Proper fitting: Ensure that your mask isn’t too loose, nor that it is so tight you cannot breathe. You have to find a balance.
  • Cover everything: Your mask has to cover your mouth and nose. Exposing your nose exposes you to the virus.
  • Keep your distance: Don’t take your face-covering off if you are within one metre of another person.
  • Sharing is far from caring: You must not allow anyone else to use your mask, nor can you give yours to another person.
  • Mask condition: If your face-covering is wet, dirty, or damaged, it’s a risk to wear it.
  • Hands-off the mask: You are advised against touching your mask while it is on your face.

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Presh JM Reporter

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