Advice issued in France on safe use

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In early April, national medical organization the National Academy of Medicine recommended that wearing a mask when leaving the home be made mandatory as soon as the isolation measures are lifted on May 11 (although the government did not make it mandatory at the time of writing).

Some have already tried to make masks mandatory – including Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice (Alpes-Maritimes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur).

However, Friday April 17, a decision of Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, said that French mayors did not have the power to make masks mandatory.

But already, some companies – such as the railway company SNCF – have declared that they plan to require people using their services to wear masks after the end of childbirth.

Read more: Mandatory masks on trains in France after childbirth

In anticipation, many French people have already started to wear masks when leaving the house, despite some controversy about their effectiveness.

In general, masks do not seem to offer much protection against infection by others. However, they can prevent the carrier from infecting others if the carrier is ill or asymptomatic of the virus itself.

It is currently illegal to buy any type of mask in pharmacies in France. As a result, hospitals and other medical facilities have published guides on how to make homemade masks, which offer a small level of protection.

Read more: Covid-19: Can I buy a mask at a pharmacy in France?

Read more: Academy of French Medicine: how make a Covid-19 mask

Read more: Covid-19: a French fashion group makes hospital masks

Now, news source FranceInfo emitted some tips for using and wearing a mask as safely and effectively as possible.

The advice is:

  1. Before putting on the mask, wash or disinfect your hands
  2. Take the mask by its ear bands and place it on your face, passing the band over your ears
  3. Fold and adjust it to make sure the nose and chin are well covered
  4. Once the mask is in place, do not touch it anymore
  5. Wash or disinfect your hands again before removing them

Mistakes to avoid:

  1. Wear your mask under your nose or do not cover the tip of your nose
  2. Wear your mask without covering your chin
  3. Touch your mask once it is in place
  4. By dropping the mask under your chin, it is almost hanging from your neck
  5. Reuse a mask without washing it first, after removing it

The advice is also to make sure the mask is facing the right way. Some medical masks have a small metal bar included – which is intended to hold the mask firmly over the nose – so this must be the right path to be effective.

The mask should cover your nose and mouth, but should not make you blow in the eyes.

If you wear glasses and find that they mist up when you breathe, your mask is probably not positioned correctly.

It is advised to adjust it to avoid this as much as possible from the start, to avoid having to adjust the mask later.

Once the mask is in place, you should no longer touch it, as this can increase the risk of contamination. You also don’t have to take it off to uncover your mouth or to talk to someone.

Surgical masks last approximately four hours. Homemade masks will likely last much shorter. Once the mask becomes wet or wet with your breath, you need to replace it.

Always try to put on and take off the mask using the ear bands. Avoid touching the mask itself.

Masks should not be reused, especially if they are disposable. If they are reusable (such as homemade cloth masks), they should be thoroughly washed with detergent and water, and allowed to dry completely before being reused.

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