Note: Some parts of this transcript have been edited for more clarity and/or conciseness.
MASKS: DEBUNKING MISCONCEPTIONS AND CLARIFYING PROPER USE
There are several misconceptions about masks and their uses. Can you please clarify them?
Now the government of India has released today that everybody must have a mask. What the government is saying is that you don’t need to have a N95 mask or surgical mask because that is reserved for health care workers. So you can stitch the cloth mask at home itself- this is what the government of India has said today. So that is a double layer cotton mask- cotton cloth can be used to stitch your own mask- and wear it when you’re going outside. The government is saying that it protects you by filtering 70% of viruses. They say that the actual mask filters around 97%, while this cloth mask will filter around 70%. So, whenever you go outside, wear a mask, but, again, the most important thing is hand washing and your social distancing. Mask will be the last line of defence. The first two things must be followed. Also, when you want to remove the mask, you have to be careful not to touch the front of the mask because whatever is being filtered is present outside the mask. So, you must not touch the front of the mask. Remove it from behind and then wash it properly.
Can you tell us the best way to clean and store our masks hygienically?
The government says that you should use soap and water to wash it. Otherwise, place the mask in hot water of 100 degree Celsius (boiled water) and boil it, or place it in a pressure cooker and boil it for ten to twenty minutes. Then take a proper cover, put some soap and water in it and wash the cover and then put this mask inside. That is how you should store the mask. So, have two to three masks and change them everyday. But, again, the most important thing is social distancing, hand washing, respiratory hygiene- that is, when you are coughing, never cough openly or in your hands; always have a handkerchief or a tissue or have a mask or cough into your bent elbow. So basically, these things have to still be followed after the lockdown has been lifted.