Britons should make their own face masks to stop the spread of coronavirus as supplies of the protective gear run short, medics have said.
Campaigners Masks4All has suggested that home-made masks can slow the spread of Covid-19. They group use the slogan ‘my mask protects you and your mask protects me’ on their website.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that there is no evidence to support the use of masks in the general population.
In the wider community outside of health and care facilities, people should wear masks if they are sick or caring for those who are ill, the organisation added.
Campaign group Masks4All has suggested that home-made masks can slow the spread of Covid-19 as supplies of the protective gear run short
The Masks4All campaign group was started in the Czech Republic, but now has a global following. More than 100 UK medics have lent the group their support.
Dr Helen Davison told The Telegraph that the group was ‘advocating the use of cloth masks as a precautionary principle’ and that it had been inspired by action taken in other countries ‘that have introduced face masks at population level’.
Scientific advisers for the Government are carrying out a review on face masks.
The Masks4All group website states: ‘The WHO only recommends masks for those infected with Covid-19 or those taking care of people infected with Covid-19. But 50 per cent of people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that there is no evidence to support the use of masks in the general population. Pictured: Tom Hanks’ son Colin wears a makeshift mask
The WHO warned that the use of masks by the public can create a ‘false sense of security’ and lead to people ignoring other protective measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distancing
‘So it follows basic logic that if we don’t know who has it and anyone who has it needs to wear a mask, then we should all wear masks.’
But WHO guidance issued earlier this month acknowledges that the virus could be passed on by people who are not yet symptomatic, but it states: ‘Current evidence suggests that most disease is transmitted by symptomatic laboratory confirmed cases.’
It adds: ‘There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses.’
It warned that the use of masks by the public can create a ‘false sense of security’ and lead to people ignoring other protective measures, such as hand hygiene and physical distancing.
Masks can even be a source of infection when not used correctly, the WHO added.
Prof Babak Javid, consultant in infectious diseases at Cambridge University Hospitals, said that he believes that ‘population mask wearing should be an important part of the response to Covid.’
Prof Babak Javid, consultant in infectious diseases at Cambridge University Hospitals, said that he believes that mask wearing should be ‘an important part of the response to Covid’
He added: ‘Once Covid cases are largely suppressed, we can stop wearing masks, their incremental gain will be low. But now, to really benefit from masks, the majority of us need to wear masks.’
Dr Paul Cosford, Medical Director of Public Health England, said ahead of the Government review that face masks were most important in a ‘clinical setting’ and that the public should prioritising the use of social distancing measures.
‘Our guidance is clear that the most important time to use face masks is in the clinical care setting,’ he told ITV News.
‘That’s for people who are looking after patients either with Covid-19 or with other diseases or of course for people who have Covid-19 themself and to help stop transmitting to other people.
‘The most thing for us to remember about reducing the spread of infection is the social distancing measures that we have got.’
Professor Jackie Cassell, deputy dean at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, added: ‘It’s a balance – masks can protect, but they can also carry virus from one person to another. Putting a mask on and off involves touching your face.
‘If you put a clean mask on your face before leaving home that may reduce your risk of breathing in virus particles on public transport, for example. Also, if you have Covid today but no symptoms, and you cough, you will be less likely to transmit it to someone else.
‘On the other hand if you are wearing a mask, and adjust it while shopping, you may transfer virus onto the mask and your face from what you have touched. In this case the mask can act as a ‘fomite’ which transfers virus from one person to another.
‘You need to be very careful taking your mask off, and disposing of it or putting it in the washing machine. It’s still essential to wash your hands before going out, when you get to work or back home. Make sure you don’t touch a used mask after washing your hands.’
HOW TO MAKE AN EFFECTIVE FACE MASK
1. Fold your bandana
After laying your chosen fabric down on a flat surface, you need to fold the top and bottom edges in towards the middle.
Depending on the size of the bandana you are using, you can then fold the fabric again in one of two ways.
Colin suggests flipping the folded bandana over, and then repeating the process – folding the bottom edge up to the center and the top edge down to meet it.
Hairstylist Bridget Brager suggests folding the bandana in half initially, and then folding the remaining fabric into thirds, with the top and bottom edges always being brought towards the middle.
Choose whichever method works best for your face; you can hold the folded fabric up to your nose and mouth to ensure that they are both covered.
Supplies: The method requires a bandana and two elastic hair ties, or rubber bands
Start it off: The first step is to fold the top and bottom edges of the bandana in towards the center, as seen in Colin’s tutorial
Layer it up: All users then suggest folding the bandana again to create more layers of fabric, with Bridget advising that you fold the material into thirds as your second step
2. Position your hair ties
When your bandana has been folded, you need to thread each end through a hair tie, moving each one about a third of the way down the fabric towards the middle.
Keep in mind that the hair ties you use will be going around your ears, so, if possible, try to use a design that is thin enough to fit, but soft enough that it won’t irritate your skin.
Accessories: After the bandana is folded, you then need to slide each end of the fabric through a hair tie, leaving about a third of the material outside of each elastic
3. Fold in the outside edges and secure
Once your hair ties are in place, you need to fold in the fabric that is outside of the elastics.
Hairstylist Bridget advises that you tuck one end of the bandana into the other in order to ensure it is totally secure.
In her video, she slots one of the ends inside the other easily, just by sliding it in between the gap made by the folds.
However, if this is too fiddly, Colin’s technique just sees him folding in the excess material and leaving it loose.
Either way, this excess material will rest against your mouth and nose so make sure there aren’t any uncomfortable labels poking out.
Secure: After the hair ties are positioned, you then need to fold in the material on the outside of the hair ties in towards the center, with Bridget advising that you tuck one side into the other
Alternative: Colin’s tutorial doesn’t require either side to be tucked in. Instead, he simply suggests that you fold the outside portions in and leave them. These will rest against your face
4. Try it on and make any necessary adjustments for comfort
Once the edges are folded in, you then simply need to loop the hair ties around your ears in order to secure the mask to your face.
If you experience any discomfort from the hair ties, Colin made some suggestions for how these can be adjusted.
Et voila! Colin and Bridget warned users to wash their masks as regularly as possible, and to avoid touching or adjusting them once you have left your house
‘As some of you may have noticed, once you put the elastic ties around your ears, they tend to push your ears forward a bit,’ he wrote on Instagram. ‘This can be fixed by adjusting the ties a little further away from the center.
‘An added bonus is that cuts down on the amount of fabric at the end that gets folded towards the center.’
If that still doesn’t solve the problem, Colin offered another solution.
‘Perhaps most helpful was something suggested by a nurse,’ he shared. ‘As I was wearing my mask today I noticed my ears started to get sore after a while due to the nature of the elastic ties being a bit think and pulling on my ears.
‘So, I took some string and cut two 10 inch pieces, tied them off, and used those instead of the elastic ties and found this to be much more comfortable and wearable for longer amounts of time. Really recommend this. I cannot remember who made the suggestion but it really helps.’
As a final word of advice, Colin and Bridget both urged all of their followers to wash their DIY masks regularly, and to avoid touching or adjusting your mask when you are out in public.
The good face-mask guide: As UK health officials consider urging everyone to cover their mouths MailOnline reveals the best from top surgical-level respirators costing £20 each or ten mouth covers for £1 each
Face masks could soon be an everyday sight in Britain as health officials admit that they are reconsidering their advice for people not to wear them.
In countries such as China, Japan and South Korea, wearing face masks when you’re ill is common – East Asia has learned from deadly virus outbreaks in the past.
The West, however, is new to the idea and the coronavirus pandemic has triggered widespread use of face coverings in the US, France and Spain.
Britain’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, said on Monday that there is an ‘ongoing review’ of official advice on masks.
For weeks the Government has told people not to bother with them and to make sure there are enough available for staff in hospitals and care homes who really need them.
Following a World Health Organization softening on the stance, however, they could soon be recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Although it is acknowledged that they don’t do much to stop someone catching the virus, there is evidence they can stop already-infected people spreading it.
As officials consider changing guidance on face masks in Britain, here is what you need to know about the types available and their relative effectiveness:
Two types of mask meet high-grade medical standards – FFP3 and FFP2/N95. So what’s the difference?
A man wearing a respirator face mask walks along Weston-super-Mare on Easter Sunday
The two main types of medical-grade face mask on sale in Britain are the FFP3 and FFP2, also known as N95, masks.
These are the types that doctors and nurses must use when treating patients with the coronavirus, and offer the most protection against viruses in the air.
They are particularly vital during ‘aerosolising’ procedures such as putting in a ventilator, which is when medical workers are most at risk of breathing in viruses.
FFP stands for Filtering Face Piece, with FFP3 giving the highest level of protection against virus and bacterial infections, while FFP2 is the level below.
NHS guidance is for medics to use the FFP3 masks, while FFP2 is recommended by the World Health Organization and is the equivalent to the US’s N95 mask.
The N in N95 stands for Not resistant to oil – because the mask is a particle respirator only and doesn’t protect against fluids – while the 95 means it filters out 95 per cent of airborne particles.
Health officials say that when FFP3s are not available, FFP2s can be used. The WHO recommends FFP2 and N95 respirators, which are widely used in other countries.
The N95 does not have the CE mark to show compliance with European safety standards, but has been tested against standards similar to these requirements.
What types of masks can you buy online and how much do they cost?
This pack of two FFP3 masks is the best selling product for the type of respirator on Amazon
High-grade dust masks now used on NHS frontline: FFP3 face masks cost £40 for two
FFP3 masks are the gold standard for preventing the spread of airborne illnesses in hospitals.
They must fit tightly to the face and have all air drawn through a filter that is embedded in the fabric and catches almost every kind of particle as the air flows through.
They are primarily used as dust masks in the construction industry.
The masks are not widely available to members of the public online.
The top listing on Amazon – made by Wrexham-based company Toolpak – has sold out both on the marketplace and the firm’s own website.
Toolpak’s masks appear to be being sold by a third party for £39.99 for a pack of two on Amazon.
The N95 face mask being sold for £6.99 online is the US equivalent of the FFP2 mask in Europe
3M N95 masks are being sold for £25.99 for a six-pack on Amazon
Silver standard masks used by medical workers in US and UK: N95/FFP2 face mask cost £6.99 each
The N95 face mask is the US equivalent of the FFP2 mask in Europe and is backed by the World Health Organisation as suitable for medical use.
Its filter is not as strong as the FFP3 – it weeds out 95 per cent of particles, as the name suggests – but it is still highly rated for NHS staff.
UK health officials say FFP2 masks are second best to FFP3, and should be used if possible because they have a European seal of approval, but N95, which doesn’t have CE approval, can be used if no FFP2 masks are available.
Masks of this grade are more readily available online from sellers in China.
The Amazon bestseller is a N95 mask sold by HJHY, a company based in China. They cost £6.99 but may not be delivered for a month or more. 43 per cent of people who bought the mask rated it just one star out of five.
Another product in Amazon’s bestseller category is a £25.99 six-pack of N95 masks made by 3M and sold by Hpparty, another company based in China. Delivery dates start in mid-May and there are no customer reviews.
These disposable face mask covers offer some protection to users against respiratory diseases
Disposable surgical masks still used in most NHS hospitals: Ten for £9.39
The best known type of medical face mask, known as a surgical mask, is still being widely used by the NHS.
Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are now instructed to wear these types of mask as a minimum at all times when working near confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients.
They are considered effective enough for most staff outside of intensive care or who are not inserting or removing breathing equipment.
Although they don’t have built-in air filters, the masks can stop droplets of liquid, which are how the majority of the COVID-19 viruses are spread.
The best-selling product of this type under ‘masks and respirators’ on Amazon today is a ten-piece set of disposable face covers which costs £9.39.
The mask – with an average review rating of 3.5 stars – has an inner layer of cotton fabric, a middle layer of medical filter paper and an outer layer of waterproof fabric. It is sold by a company in London and delivers in early May.
Another top seller is a pack of 20 costing £7.97 and shipping from a company called T-Shell in Guangdong, China.
These types of masks are typically not reusable and should only be used for one day at a time.
Cycling masks can also provide people with a layer of protection from airborne particles
This mask is for sale for £11.99 on Amazon
Cycling masks designed to filter out pollution but with potential to stop viruses: £7.57 for six
While cycling masks remain untested regarding coronavirus, they are intended to provide a layer of protection from airborne particles.
They are designed to stop cyclists breathing in pollution when they ride through areas with heavy traffic.
They contain an air filter for this purpose, but are not regulated to the same standard as medical face masks so provide varying levels of protection.
High quality cycling masks, such as those made by the well-known UK brand Cambridge Mask Co. cost upwards of £20 and are reusable. The company has now sold out of all stock but is taking pre-orders.
Other cycling masks are available on Amazon, with the site’s bestseller a £7.57 pack of six from a company called Diyii in China. The firm says the masks are good for those with sensitive skin allergies and can be washed repeatedly, and are also suitable for camping, running, travel and climbing.
Another top seller on the marketplace is a reusable mask sold by the Chinese firm KZKR-EU which costs £11.99 per mask and claims it will deliver within two weeks.
This valved gas mask is claimed to match up to the highest filtration standard
This rubber-sealed, military-looking mask is for sale for £29.87 on Amazon
The dramatic option: Respirator gas mask costing £34.86 for one
Perhaps the most dramatic-looking option of all masks is the gas mask respirator.
These are generally used by people spraying paint or other chemicals which it would be dangerous to inhale, or working in hazardous environments.
The masks have built-in valves fitted with filters which may be able to keep out droplets carrying the coronavirus.
The top listing on Amazon is a mask costing £34.86 and sold by SafeYear, a company based in Shanghai, China. The mask is rated FFP3, meaning it would be suitable for even the riskiest medical procedures.
Another top listed option on the site is a full-face rubber-sealed black mask which costs £29.87.
It is sold by the company Maikoler, based in China, and says it would be delivered by the end of May. The military-looking contraption has no customer ratings.
A woman in New York is pictured wearing a makeshift cloth facemask
A man in Fife, Scotland, shocked shoppers when he turned up at Asda wearing a mask made from a sanitary towel
T-shirts, bandanas and even sanitary towels: Homemade face masks may offer protection, too
Many people are opting to make masks at home using cloth or other materials – some have even been pictured using sanitary towels.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US recommends people use cloth face coverings when they go out in public and even has a how-to guide for people to make their own out of t-shirts or bandanas.
The intention of these is not specifically to protect people from catching the virus but to prevent the spread of it by encouraging such widespread use that people who are infected but don’t know about it wear something that blocks the viruses being expelled on their breath.
However, European researchers have suggested these may not be effective and up to 90 per cent of particles can make their way through the fabric.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said rates of illness were much higher among healthcare staff using masks made out of cloth instead of surgical masks.
It said: ‘Altogether, common fabric cloth masks are not considered protective against respiratory viruses and their use should not be encouraged.
‘In the context of severe personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, and only if surgical masks or respirators are not available, homemade cloth masks (e.g. scarves) are proposed as a last-resort interim solution by the US CDC until availability of standard PPE is restored.’
The CDC has a how-to guide on its website for how people can quickly and easily make face masks out of t-shirts and bandanas
FASHION FIRM TURNS TIGHTS INTO MASKS FOR NHS STAFF
A Cheshire-headquartered, family-run hosiery business has switched from producing tights to washable face masks, to ease the demand on medical equivalents for frontline NHS staff.
The company, ELLE, joins the likes Prada, Gucci, LVMH, YSL and Burberry who are all using their production facilities to make PPE and hand sanitiser.
ELLE can produce 350,000 masks per week that are designed to be comfortable to wear, and are washable, so eco-friendly.
The unisex masks can be washed up to 25 times and are constructed from a double-layered material, which has antimicrobial properties.
The masks are also given additional antimicrobial and water-repellent treatments, meaning if someone coughs or sneezes nearby there is protection from the droplets in the air.
The unisex masks can be washed up to 25 times and are constructed from a double-layered material, which has antimicrobial properties
The factory usually makes over 12 million pairs of tights a year. ‘It’s important that all businesses do their bit to support all efforts to fight Covid 19, and we are no different,’ said Anja Khan, chief executive at ELLE.
‘With such a huge demand on surgical masks for frontline health care professionals, we wanted to ease this strain and supply an ‘every day’ option as part of social distancing guidelines.
‘So instead of making tights, we are now making masks. This isn’t a commercial decision but the right thing to do. From a cost perspective, we are making just enough money to cover our costs, keep our colleagues in jobs and in turn support their families.’
In addition, ELLE’s ‘factory to face’ traceability through its Made in Green accreditation means that every mask is tested for harmful substances and produced in environmentally friendly factory facilities with socially responsible working conditions linked to fully transparent production.
Masks are available in a variety of sizes from elle.co.uk. Five re-usable masks are priced at £14.99 including postage. ELLE is also adding a free mask to every tights purchase.