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Saturday, 08 May 2021 7.02 PM IST

Coronavirus: Experts recommend double masking to prevent infection; here is how to do it the right way


Masks remain to be our best preventive tools in minimizing the risk of catching COVID-19.

Right now, while the risk of double mutant and triple mutant coronavirus variants loom over us, experts are now suggesting people layer up or wear double masks to prevent chances of infection, at the time when newer strains are said to be a lot more infectious and easily transmissible.

Is wearing two masks effective?

Double masking was also a measure suggested by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the USA after studies confirmed its workings. According to scientists, layering up an additional layer of mask over the other not just offers strengthened protection, but also helps lower infectivity and transmission by effectively curbing the pathogen from collecting. As per studies, double masking could lessen down infection chances and cut severity rates by as much as 85-95%.

How does it help against COVID-19?

Medically speaking, using additional layers, or masks can create a tougher barrier that will stop germs and viruses from creeping in and spreading infections. It can also do a better job in reducing the contagiousness of any infection. Wearing double masks can also cover up the problems a lot of people encounter- give a tighter, more snug fit to keep their mouth covered. It could be especially helpful if you engage in a high-risk environment, or frequent contagious settings. Public transport, poorly ventilated places, crowded markets, hospitals could be some places where you could benefit from using double masks.

Which is the best way to double mask?

Many people tend to layer up homemade masks one over the other. However, experts suggest that when it comes to double masking, ensure that you layer up a cloth mask over a surgical one for the best measure. Such a combination, unlike others, would not just cover the face better, give you proper fit (nose and below the mouth), but also prevent the leakage of air or collection of particles.

How should you double mask?

Simply layering up masks won't help much. For the best fit and appropriate protection, researchers have evaluated that the following factors are essential to effective double masking:

-Knotted masks with the option of ties.

-Using two masks that fit well with each other, and preferably, offer minimal gaps.

-Are both good quality masks

Steps to wear a double mask

Multiple layers work to protect your face from the risk of catching respiratory droplets containing the virus. Ensure that you select a mask that has double, triple layers of fabric in it.

Prioritizing a snug fit is all the more important. So, to double mask, wear your first mask, such as a surgical mask. Now, knot in the loops of the mask where they attach to the edges. Tuck in and flatten any extra fabric, close to the mask. Once done, layer up with an additional mask like a cloth mask.

What should you avoid?

Double masking can feel tight and take a while to get used to. Apart from this, there are also some other measures you must adopt:

-Do not layer two masks of the same kind (don't use two surgical/ disposable masks over the other)

-Use an N95/K95 mask with another kind. Don't layer up a cloth mask over one with a filter either.-Don't use masks if they are visibly soiled or dirty. It would not offer much protection.

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