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Double Masking: How, Why, and When? - All you need to know

India's battle with a second wave of COVID-19 has turned out to be more challenging due to the risk of double and triple mutant variants that are affecting large number of the population. Observing the crisis, experts have suggested people to layer up -- wear double masks -- to prevent the spread of infection, especially from asymptomatic people.

At this time of extreme difficulties, when new strains of Coronavirus are believed to be a lot more infectious, switching from single to double masks is likely to be an effective measure to prevent exposure to aerosols.

Here are some guidelines on the type of masks one should wear while practising double masking. 

How to switch to Double Masking?

The principle rule of double masking is to layer up a cloth mask over a surgical one for the best protection. It is an effective way to cover the face preventing transmission while giving the proper fit. Since COVID-19 is an infectious disease, and there is a massive surge of cases in the second wave, an extra mask will help provide an extra layer of filtration. 

Things to consider while double masking:

1.         Knot and tuck the surgical mask

2.         Wear surgical mask over 3-PLY cloth mask

3.         Hold both the masks from the ear ties

4.         Don’t touch to hold masks from the outside

5.         Make sure masks have nose-pin for adjustment

6.         Masks should cover face and and mouth properly

7.         Masks should be well-fitted

How to Knot-and-Tuck?

1.         Fold the surgical mask and knot the ear loops on both ends.

2.         Make sure the knot ends close to the edges of the mask.

3.         Tuck in and flatten the extra material close to the face.

4.         Wear this covering your nose, mouth and chin as well.

Knot and Tuck method is applied for better fit to your mask preventing infectious respiratory droplets containing the virus from flowing around the edges of the mask. 

When Double Masking is absolutely necessary?

The Critical Care Specialists at AMRI Hospitals, suggest wearing double masks whenever you step out of the house and indoors, where physical distancing is difficult and the risk of transmission is high. Such places include grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, offices, hospitals, airports, and public transports (metro, or buses). 

The added layers may prevent the virus from escaping, ensuring it is not transmitted to the people with an infected person. 

Masks for children

According to health experts, children should wear one mask which is specifically designed for them (as per age and size). Parents have to make sure that the mask fits rightly over the nose, mouth, and under the chin. It is necessary to check that no gaps should be left around the sides. 

It is strictly advisable not to cover the face of kids younger than two years old.

Avoid:

In India, following double masking may seem like a daunting task especially in summer & monsoon seasons when temperature soars up with dry or humid heat. However, double masking is scientifically tested and will not bring any breathing issues, if implemented in a correct way. Initially it may feel tight and take a while to get used to. 

However, there are some measures one must keep in mind while going for Double Masking;

•           Do not layer two masks of the same kind

•           Do not wear loose fitted wear mask

•           Don’t use masks if they are dirty or hampered

•           Don’t layer up a cloth mask over one with a filter

•           Don’t wear more than two masks as it makes breathing difficult

•           You don’t need to wear a surgical mask with a N95/K95 mask