Don't touch the outside of your mask. Here's why.
According to a University of Hong Kong study published on The Lancet medical journal, lab observations have shown that the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, can remain on various surfaces for a few hours, and even up to a few days.The study showed that the virus could only survive a quick 3 hours on regular and toilet paper. On treated wood and cloth, the virus could no longer be detected on the second day of contamination.After 4 days, traces of the coronavirus could no longer be detected on smooth treated surfaces like glass and bank notes.However, when it comes to surgical masks, traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease, could still be found 7 days later."Strikingly, a detectable level of infectious virus could still be present on the outer layer of a surgical mask on day 7," the study says.This raises an alarming issue corresponding to the use (and misuse) of masks in mass populations across the globe.IMAGE: Tore F. / UnsplashAfter the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement encouraging the use of face masks, people have been scrambling to get their own personal protective equipment (PPE).The CDC statement also encouraged people to make their own cloth face protection, saving medical-grade masks for frontliners, as well as those infected with COVID-19.The University of Hong Kong study provides valuable insight into the various precautions we all have to take as a society when wearing our masks.The first, and perhaps the most important thing to remember is to never touch the outside of your mask.With all the things that we end up touching (whether with bare hands or gloves), we risk contaminating our masks with whatever germs and bacteria (and of course, COVID-19) we came into contact with.IMAGE: Claudio Schwarz / UnsplashOne of the easiest preventative measures we can take is to practice regular hand cleaning via soap and water, as well as the generous use of hand sanitizer.The more frequently we do this, the lower our chances are of contracting the virus through contamination of various surfaces.If you're wearing a reusable face mask, perhaps something you made yourself, you should always wash it before and after each use to maximize its level of cleanliness.The study also suggests that common household disinfectants like bleach would be effective enough in "killing" the virus.IMAGE: Clay Banks / UnsplashThe study postulates the unlikely (but scary) possibility of contracting the virus when carrying tins of food, which (like surgical masks) can carry the virus for up to 7 days.At the end of the day, however, hand-washing remains supreme in protecting yourself from the contamination and spread of COVID-19, regardless of the virus' varying stability on different surfaces.What are you doing to protect yourself from COVID-19?Remember, stay home.Cover image sourced from HealthGuidance.……
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