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CDC recommends DIY cloth masks; N95 and surgical masks reserved for healthcare

Soya Cincau logo Soya Cincau 6/4/2020 Nic Ker
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Health bodies around the world have been issuing advice and guidelines on how to curb the spread of COVID-19, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that those in the U.S. should wear “cloth face coverings” in the public, especially in certain hot spots for the pandemic. This comes amidst a reported “severe shortage” of protective gear in the U.S.—including surgical and N95 face masks.

The updated guidelines come after recent studies found that asymptomatic (display no symptoms) individuals can also transmit the coronavirus to another individual. Additionally, the coronavirus can be transmitted via coughing and sneezing, as well as speaking. The advice isn’t meant to replace social distancing measures, however.

“It is critical to emphasise that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.”

As such, it’s important to note that the CDC is still advising a 6-feet distance for social distancing, with the cloth mask recommendation applicable for situations in the public where these distancing measures are impossible. These include supermarkets, pharmacies, and so on. “Simple cloth face coverings” will help to slow the spread of COVID-19, says the CDC, and can be made at home from common household items.

Here’s a quick tutorial from the U.S. Surgeon General, who says that these DIY masks can be fashioned from scarves, bandanas, and hand towels:

To be clear, this advice doesn’t supersede anything that’s already widely reported. The CDC warns that these cloth face masks aren’t substitutes for surgical or N-95 masks: “critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders”. Instead, the cloth face masks will function as “additional, voluntary” measures against the global pandemic.

U.S. President Trump also recently said that the CDC is advising Americans to wear “non-medical” face masks, although he reiterated the “voluntary” nature of the advice. According to Trump:

“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens—I just don’t see it.”

a woman talking on a cell phone: SOURCE: Malay Mail © Provided by Soya Cincau SOURCE: Malay Mail

As of the 5th of April 2020, the U.S. has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world at 308,850; 8,407 people have died from the pandemic. There number of global cases reported has crossed the 1 million mark, with 64,610 deaths reported. On the local front, Malaysia has reported 3,662 cases of infection, with 61 confirmed deaths.

For more information on the CDC’s guidelines for face masks, click here and here.

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