‘For the umpteenth time’: Belgians reminded to correctly wear face masks
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‘For the umpteenth time’: Belgians reminded to correctly wear face masks

Credit: Belga

Belgian health officials once again urged people to wear and handle their face masks correctly, as they are “an essential part of the fight against Covid-19,” they said during a press conference on Friday.

“With a mask, we protect each other in the classroom, in the public space, and on the street,” virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said. “Yet, it strikes us that the mask is very often still worn incorrectly, which can make it useless, or even unsafe.”

“So, for the umpteenth time, as it is apparently still necessary, we will explain again how to correctly and safely handle a mask,” Van Gucht’s francophone colleague Yves Van Laethem said.

Always wash or disinfect your hands before putting on a face mask. “If this is not possible, for example when you are walking on the street, only touch the mask at the edges or on the elastic bands,” Van Gucht said.

When putting on the mask, only use your fingers. “Additionally, only touch the edges. Do not use your whole hand to adjust it,” he said.

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Make sure that the edges are always properly fitted to your face. “There should be no gaps along the edge, drops can escape or possibly even enter through them,” Van Gucht said. “Remember that a face mask must cover both mouth and nose.”

Do not cross the elastic bands. It causes gaps at the mask’s edges, along which drops can escape. If the mask slips off your face, you can tie a little knot in the elastic bands, so it fits better. “Always wear a mask that fits comfortably. If yours does not, look for a different model,” he said.

Fight the reflex to readjust or touch the mask, or to touch your face. “However, we often do this subconsciously, so make sure to wash or disinfect your hands regularly throughout the day.”

For people who wear glasses, a number of special products to prevent the glasses from fogging up are available.

Wear a new or a freshly washed mask every day. “Take a new one when it is wet as well, for example if you walked outside in the rain,” Van Gucht said.

Lastly, do not leave a mask lying around. “People often put it on the same table or cupboard, which can contaminate that surface. The virus from another mask can then end up on your one,” he said. “Make sure that everyone at home has a personal box, pouch or bag to store their own mask in.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times