During the initial phase of the Coronavirus pandemic, only those infected were being advised to wear a face mask constantly. However, things have started to change around a bit.
A manual recently issued by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India says that according to analysis if 50% of the population were to wear masks, only 50% of the population would be infected by the virus. But once 80% of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped immediately.
It’s no longer about whether you have the symptoms or not; even if you’re healthy, wearing a mask can considerably reduce the chances of you being infected, in case you were to run out for some unavoidable errand or work.
What happens is, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads easily from airborne droplets that are formed when we talk, breathe, laugh, yawn, cough or sneeze. The virus-carrying respiratory droplets dry fast enough to form droplet nuclei and remain airborne before landing on different surfaces. They survive upto three hours in the air and upto three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
If you have a physical barrier in front of your mouth and nose, you’re less likely to breathe in those droplets. Now, while homemade masks are only 70% as effective as the N-95 and N-99 surgical masks, they’re still a great alternative for a preventative measure. The surgical masks are mainly meant for front line healthcare workers and people battling COVID-19 and have an already overburdened demand all across the country.
Here’s how you can make your own face mask using simple materials at home:
Scientists have found that a double layer of 100% cotton cloth is the most effective at capturing small particles (up to five times smaller than the Coronavirus), is breathable and is easy to use for making a mask at home.
So, take any used cotton cloth, including an old cotton vest or t-shirt to make your mask. However, you must ensure that the fabric is washed well in boiling water (with added salt) for 5 minutes and dried well before use.
- Cotton Fabric. For adults: 9 inch x 7 inch. For children: 7 inch x 5 inch.
- Strips: Cut four strips from any cotton cloth for tying and piping. Two pieces at 1.5”x 5” and two pieces at 1.5”x 40”.
- Sewing machine.
- Take the cut fabric, and attach a 1.5”x5” strip to be used as piping to the fabric on one end.
- Create three downward facing pleats of approximately 1.5” each by folding the cloth and sew them in place.
- Turn the pleated cloth to the other side and repeat the steps for pleating on this side too. Once the pleats have been made, the height of the pleated cloth will be reduced from 9” to 5”.
- Secure the pleats with piping on both sides. Take extra care to keep all pleats facing downward.
- Now begin attaching the long 40” strips used for tying the mask to the top and bottom of the mask.
- Once again fold both these strips three times and stitch them in place.
Homemade masks have the advantage of being washed after every use and reused, unlike surgical masks that need to be disposed of after a single wear. All you need to do is thoroughly clean the mask in soap and warm water and leave it to dry in the sun for 5 hours.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)