CORONAVIRUS continues to spread around the UK, but many of the public have taken to wearing face masks to prevent catching the killer bug.
Yet, with the world’s population looking to get their hands on one, stocks of the masks have dwindled as people look to help contain the pandemic.
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Health officials have said that masks are vital for frontline staff and those caring for Covid-19 patients as they are at a much greater risk of catching it.
It comes amid a global shortage of face masks, including N95 respirators, as medics desperately try and battle the killer bug.
Homemade masks won’t offer the same level of protection as medical-grade ones, but it hasn’t stopped DIY tutorials popping up online.
Who should wear a mask?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said only those with Covid-19 symptoms and those caring for them need masks, but this guidance is set to be reviewed.
Masks worn by sick people protect others from the infection through the droplets that come out when they cough or sneeze.
People caring for them should also cover up whenever they are in the same room as the patient to prevent the spread of the virus.
But the WHO says surgical masks can only help when used with other preventative measures such as frequent hand-washing.
Join our George Cross campaign for NHS staff
SUN readers are today urged to sign a petition calling for our NHS staff to be awarded the George Cross.
Yesterday, we backed a proposal by Lord Ashcroft to honour our health heroes with the gallantry gong given for acts of bravery that did not take place in battle.
A No10 spokesman said: “The NHS is doing a fantastic job and the nation will want to find a way to say thank you when we have defeated this virus.”
SAS hero Andy McNab added: “The award of a George Cross would show an emotional appreciation.”
We are asking readers to sign the petition online at thesun.co.uk/georgecrossfornhs.
What is the guidance on masks in the UK?
The British public hasn’t been advised to wear face masks to protect against coronavirus – unless you’re caring for someone with the disease or you work on the frontline.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Good Morning Britain today: “Masks are very important to protect healthcare workers…
“But (asking the public to wear them) isn’t something that we’ve done here because we’ve followed the advice.
“And we’ve followed the medical and scientific advice and the whole basis of our response has been making sure that we follow the science.”
Kitchen tissue method
One of the simplest ones involves using two layers of kitchen roll and one tissue cut in half.
You then cover each end with masking tape – and you can even tape down some wire to stiffen the mask, if you have any.
Finish by punching holes in each end and threading elastic through to fit around your ears.
If you don’t have elastic bands you could also use a hair tie.
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Another method involves using a T-shirt without the need for any sewing or stitching.
A YouTube tutorial by Runa Ray explains that for the T-shirt method, you need to cut out a 16in by 4in rectangle from the material.
Then fold it in half and measure 4in on either side before making an equal number of cuts along the edges with scissors.
Then turn the fabric inside out and knot each of the tails, but leave the four outer edges.
Cut two more strips of material and tie them to the ends – these are the straps that will go around your ears.
Some people have also used a vacuum cleaner bag to create a face mask, which is a bit more complicated – and only works if you have a spare, clean bag to hand.
Do they work?
Experts are still pretty divided on their effectiveness outside of a medical setting.
New evidence from Hong Kong about face masks has been shared confidentially with the World Health Organisation.
The data hasn’t been made public yet but it reportedly suggests that the protective gear was effective in slowing the spread in Asian countries.
She said: “They do not protect against the virus getting into the eyes – only close fitting goggles do this.
“People may not fit the masks properly or take them on and off. Touching face masks and not taking them off in the correct way may mean people contaminate their hands and spread the virus.
“People may have a false sense of reassurance and thus pay less attention to other behaviours key to reducing transmission such as social distancing and hand-washing.”
A man wears face mask while travelling on the London Underground during the coronavirus pandemic[/caption]
Are other countries ordering citizens to wear masks?
Officials in New York City are urging people to wear masks when they go outside.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said coverings for the nose and mouth can be “real homegrown” and made from a scarf or bandana.
It is believed new US Government guidance would suggest non-medical masks, T-shirts or bandanas be used to cover the nose and mouth when outside the home, while professional-grade masks are kept for healthcare workers.
In Europe, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina have introduced these measures.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS
Residents in the Philippines have to wear a mask in public, and the same is true in some of the worst-affected provinces in China.
In Japan, where masks were already a household staple, the government plans to post two gauze masks to each of the country’s 50 million households.
People in Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan regularly wear masks because of air pollution.