At the beginning of April there were reports that in light of new evidence the WHO were reviewing their guidelines on wearing face masks. Since then many countries have been updating their guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks. NPR published a piece explaining why there are so many different guidelines for face masks for the public.
“The reasons for a policy may have to do with practical considerations like the national supply of masks but may also reflect cultural values and history.”
As it stands now WHO’S guidelines for when and how to use a face mask are below:
- If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected covid-19 infection.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
South Africa’s stance, as published by the NICD on the 15th of April, is that medical face masks are generally not to be worn by the public – people who are not suffering from COVID-19 and do not meet the aforementioned conditions. However, they have provided guidelines for fabric face masks, quoting;
“it is believed that, if the fabrics and filters used in a fabric of cloth masks are chosen suitably, these fabric face masks can play an important role in reducing the community transmission of COVID-19. In addition, they further appear to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces by acting as a barrier to touching one’s face.”
If you’re looking for where to purchase reusable face masks, two local companies have begun producing and selling their own reusable non-surgical face masks. Both of which are available to order during lock-down.
When buying non-surgical reusable face masks, Lucie McPherson of The Silk Lady recommends looking out for the following:
- A pocket slip for disposable filters
- Nose contour wire for a good fit
- Hand and machine washable
- Adjustable strap to ensure the correct fit
When wearing any face mask, be it surgical, reusable or even a bandanna or scarf, make sure it is properly secured and covers both your mouth and nose. Most importantly if you are wearing one, make sure not to touch your face or readjust it while out in public as that essentially defeats the purpose. Reusable face masks should also be washed after every use.
The Silk Lady Triple Layered Reusable Face Masks
Having grown up in the Czech Republic, Silk Lady founder Lucie McPherson is no stranger to wearing face masks as they were mandatory growing up due to pollution. Seeing a need for reusable face masks in South Africa, Lucie quickly pivoted her product line of silk pillowcases to start manufacturing silk face masks. The Silk Lady reusable face mask is triple layered, has a nose contour wire and adjustable strap for a good fit, is hypoallergenic and is both hand and machine washable. They come in a variety of prints and fabrics and include both adult and child sizes.
Shop the Silk Lady Reusable Facemasks here (R52-184)
Optiphi Joen Fabric Reusable Face Masks
Local cosmetics brand Optiphi has partnered JOEN Arts and Bags in Limpopo to bring their fabric face masks to the public and available to purchase on their online store. Joen is a small business run by mom and son duo – Silvia and Collins that normally makes beautiful hand-made bags, wine-coolers and clothing items. In light of Covid-19 and it’s effects on their business they’ve recruited teams in Limpopo to help make reusable face masks and using that as a way to raise fund for their community. The Joen reusable face masks come in a variety of fabrics and patterns, are double lined with an interior lining of poly cotton. They have adjustable straps for comfort and fit and are machine washable. All the proceeds from the sale of the masks go back into the local area and a portion of the proceeds is shared amongst four local charitable causes.
Shop Joen Fabric Resuable Facemasks here (R95)