Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee
Both the Union Govt. and the State Govt. have advised those stepping outside their houses should cover their faces with homemade, reusable masks — in addition to taking measures like social distancing and hand washing — to tackle the coronavirus. Odisha State Govt. has made waering masks mandatory from 9 April 2020. Several newspapers and news channels have started campaigning in favour of wearing masks whenever one is going out of his/her home.
Many, however, question the desirability of everybody wearing masks and its efficacy. Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick. Viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly five-fold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness). If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others. Masks are crucial for health and social care workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and carer should have a mask, writes The Guardian (5th April 2020). Health and social care workers need to wear medical mask.
However, others may use non-medical masks. You don’t even have to buy expensive masks. You can make it at home.
Here’s how to make a mask at home all by yourself:
Any used cotton cloth can be used to make this face cover. You must ensure that you wash the fabric well in boiling water for 5 minutes and dry it well before making the face cover. Adding salt to this water is recommended.
Cut cloth — 9 inch x 7 inch for adults and 7 inch x 5 inch for kids.
Cut 4 strips for tying and piping from cloth. Take the cut fabric, attach the 1.5×5 inches strip to be used as piping to the fabric on one end.
Create three downward facing pleats of approximately 1.5 inch each folding cloth.
Turn the pleated cloth to the other side and repeat steps for pleating on this side. Once the pleats have been made, the height of the pleated cloth will be reduced from 9 to 5 inches.
Secure the pleats with piping on both sides. Now begin attaching the long 40 inch strips used for tying the face cover to the top and bottom.
Once again fold both these strips three times and stitch.
Ensure that the face cover fits around your mouth and nose and there is no gap between it and your face. When wearing the face cover, the side facing you should show the pleats as facing downwards.
If you don’t have a sewing machine at your disposal, follow these steps:
Fold the handkerchief from one side to little above the middle of the cloth.
Fold over the other edge to go above the first fold. Fold this again evenly from the middle.
Take a rubber band and tie it on left side of the cloth.
Tie the other side with another rubber band. Ensure that the area in the middle of the two rubber-bands is big enough to cover your mouth and nose.
Take one edge of the cloth on the side of the rubber band and fold over it. Do this for both sides. Take one fold and insert in to the other fold. To wear this face cover just wrap each rubber band around your ears.
It is advised that two sets of such face covers be made so that one can be washed while the other is used. You must never reverse the face cover for reuse.
These face covers could be made out of clean cloth available at home, which needs to be thoroughly cleaned and washed before a face cover is stitched/made.
Odisha Govt. has directed that “Disposable/single use masks should be properly disposed of by following due procedure prescribed by Health and Family Welfare Department. Cloth masks should be cleaned with soap/detergent/disinfectant and water and sun-dried for at least 5 hours after every single use. Masks used by one person must not be used by any other person”.
See this site to make a mask at home: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/apr/06/how-to-make-no-sew-face-mask-coronavirus
Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee teaches at Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, Odisha.