Rather donate your gloves and masks to those who know how to use them

Retailers are cashing in and everyone is walking around wearing masks or gloves. The bad news is that both could be totally useless, or even contribute to the spread of the disease, if not used properly.


South Africans should rather donate their stockpiles of surgical masks to healthcare professionals, as wearing a mask is unlikely to prevent most from catching the feared Covid-19 virus anyway. The country went into panic-buying mode in recent weeks with scores flocking to malls and pharmacies to panic buy masks, gloves and sanitisers in an attempt to contain the spread of the fatal virus. The country’s citizens are now walking around with masks while small enterprises try sell all sorts of masks, gloves and sanitisers to desperate buyers on social media. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), however, you only…

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South Africans should rather donate their stockpiles of surgical masks to healthcare professionals, as wearing a mask is unlikely to prevent most from catching the feared Covid-19 virus anyway.

The country went into panic-buying mode in recent weeks with scores flocking to malls and pharmacies to panic buy masks, gloves and sanitisers in an attempt to contain the spread of the fatal virus. The country’s citizens are now walking around with masks while small enterprises try sell all sorts of masks, gloves and sanitisers to desperate buyers on social media.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), however, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of someone suspected of contracting the Covid-19 virus, and masks should be worn by those who are already infected by the Covid-19 virus or are coughing and sneezing.

N95 respirator masks are the best option as they prevent the inhalation of airborne viruses, chairperson of the South African Medical Association Dr Angelique Coetzee said.

“With the mask, you can still catch the virus as it can still go through the eyes. It only helps you not to spread the virus to other people if you are already infected. It is totally pointless wearing a mask. People are now wasting the masks since we have a shortage of masks for healthcare professionals, and people don’t really need them,” she said.

Gloves did not prevent the spreading of the virus either, but instead only protected the person wearing them. One should rather continuously change the gloves used to prevent further contamination of other surfaces.

“Gloves only protect yourself and not the other person. But with contaminated gloves, you can spread it to other people or even touch your face and get infected because the virus stays on surfaces for about nine hours.”

Coetzee said shoppers should have rather stockpiled on any soap of their choice rather than hand sanitiser, as it was best to wash off bacteria and viruses than rubbing hands together.

“People should rather stock up on any soap. It doesn’t need to be a special soap. It is much cheaper than hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser works if it is between 70% and 75% alcohol. Otherwise keep a bottle of water and piece of soap, wet your hands with water, use the soap for about 20 seconds on your skin and rinse off.”

According to the World Health Organisation:

  • 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.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it. If you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask – remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask). Discard immediately in a closed bin. Clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

rorisangk@citizen.co.za

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