These are guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on homemade masks
If your face mask does not have more than one layer of fabric it may expose you to Covid-19 infection, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on homemade masks.
Also, anyone who wears a single mask for more than three hours increases the chances of infection.
Unlike medical masks which are produced for hospitals, handmade masks yield higher infection rates caused by droplets and airborne micro-organisms.
Studies have shown that multi layered masks offer more protection and single layer cloths masks are riskier.
Cloth masks, become magnets for the virus when they get wet, even due to vapour from breathing in and out.
WHO points out that homemade masks become less effective if they are not used in conjunction with other Covid-19 prevention measures like social distancing and hygiene.
Masks, the organisation advises, should be washed using hot water in a basin with laundry detergent and if hot water is not available, cold water with 0.05 percent chlorine should be used.
They should be soaked for 30 minutes and then be rinsed with water and laundry detergent.
Low resource countries will have to rely on the handmade cloth masks to contain Covid-19 which has so far infected 292 people in Zimbabwe and killed four.
Globally, more than 7 million have been infected and deaths top 400 000.
Local manufacturers and tailors have ventured into mask making after Government made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask in public spaces.
A majority use just any cloth in single layers.
Police have been arresting people spotted without face masks after the law was enacted, effective May 4.
WHO says cloth masks should not replace respirators and should never be used by healthcare workers in health institutions.
“Homemade cloth masks may offer marginal protection from droplet and airborne infections from asymptomatic persons by reducing the number of respiratory droplets from them to others,” read the statement from WHO.
“Homemade cloth masks can be assembled from many different materials readily available within the community. Yet, preliminary data shows that masks made up of two or more cloth layers are more effective at keeping particle penetration lower than single-layered masks.”
The guidelines also recommended that in providing routine care to a Covid-19 patient, health care workers should wear surgical masks.
“Make sure to keep the homemade cloth mask dry at all times. Even moisture from exhaling could potentially make the fabric more prone to transmitting infection,” said WHO.
“Homemade cloth masks may be worn up to three hours without an increase in particle penetration and they must be cleaned daily.”
WHO also emphasised the need for physical distancing of at least 1-metre and adopting sound hand hygiene practices in addition to wearing masks.