COVID-19: Wet masks should be replaced

October 21, 2020
Lynda Charters

Masks that become damp should be replaced, but health officials say that not enough people know this.

Health officials are highlighting the importance of wearing a clean, dry mask to help guard against the spready of COVID-19

Professor Tim Spector, an educator from King’s College London is offering the public a bit of very practical advice.

“Masks need to be changed regularly and this is particularly important to understand in damp and wet weather,” he told The Times, adding that not enough people know that water on the mask makes it less effective.

Ophthalmologists can educate staff and patients on the proper use of masks. Disposable surgical masks are made of paper and when wet they become less effective in blocking the offending pathogens, which is important to recognize in rainy as well as snowy climates.

Paul Hunter, a professor in Medicine at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, told HuffPost UK, that because the masks are made of paper they are “particularly susceptible to the bad weather.

And even without the bad weather, a person’s breath on the mask also causes the materials of the mask to break down. Whenever possible, masks should be replaced every 3 hours, he emphasized. This advice also applies to the N95 masks worn by health providers.

Moreover, a guidance on face masks from the World Health Organization also urges people to “replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.”

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