A ‘fabric/cloth’ face mask (non-medical mask) for the general public is only part of a broader solution to curb the spread of COVID-192 and it must always be used in combination with other hygienic methods of prevention. Such masks are not a replacement for other recommended precautionary measures. They should not provide a false sense of protection that lead to a lapse in the application of proper preventative measures like personal hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and physical (social) distancing of at least 1.6m. Furthermore, the design of fabric masks should be mindful of the thermo-physiological properties of fabrics which, if wrongly chosen, can lead to problems like skin irritation, the build-up of heat or moisture, or the incubation of bacteria etc, and may cause wearers to take off masks in situations when they should otherwise be wearing them. There has been much debate globally about the use of face masks for non-Health Care Professionals (non-HCP) during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is agreement in the recommendations that symptomatic individuals and those in healthcare settings should use face masks. But discrepancies and mixed messages exist in relation to the wearing of masks by the general public. By refining some of the lessons from various sources, it is possible to arrive at a set of interim guidelines for the use of masks by the general public in South Africa.
DTIC Updated Guidelines for Fabric Face Masks