Change masks every four hours – Public health nurse

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Change masks every four hours – Public health nurse

Sunday, November 22, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— Senior public health nurse and in-service coordinator at the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, Charmaine Vassell-Shettlewood, says many people are unwittingly putting themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19 by improper use of face masks.

Speaking at a recent meeting between Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, and youth leaders from Maverley, St Andrew, Vassell-Shettlewood said masks, whether disposable or reusable, should not be worn for more than four hours at a time.

“Our mask is safe for only four hours, whether it is a cloth mask or a paper mask. After four hours you must change your mask because you are breathing in what is on the inside of the mask and after four hours, the mask will no longer be effective,” she said.

“We notice that people take their mask and they throw it down and then they take up the same mask two to three days after and they are wearing the same mask. But you are only covered with your mask for four consecutive hours,” she added.

Vassell-Shettlewood also advised that people travel with an extra mask.

“So each morning when you are leaving your house, you should be leaving with two masks. At the end of four hours you change it and once you take off your mask you should be washing your hands or sanitising,” she noted.

Vassell-Shettlewood further recommended that people avoid washing the cloth masks with bleach as this could cause an allergic reaction.

“We have found people coming in with adverse reactions around the nose and the mouth. So we are recommending that you wash your mask with soap and water and then hang it to dry in the sun and then you can iron it on the wrong side and the right side and you are safe to wear your mask,” she said.

The public health nurse reminded people to always wash or sanitise their hands before putting on and after taking off the mask. In addition, when removing from the face, the outside corners should be folded together, so that only the outside of the mask is exposed.

If correctly worn, masks help slow transmission of COVID-19, by reducing exposure to droplets containing the virus, which is released when an infected individual breathes, speaks or coughs, and may also lower the chance of droplets entering one's mouth and nose.

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