Different germs can survive on a used mask for different periods of time. Viruses can survive for a
few hours up to a few days on masks. Used single-use masks should be binned immediately after
use. Always wash your hands before wearing and after taking off a mask.

Masks that are not made out of cloth are single use and thus not reusable. They should be
discarded after being used.
Masks should only be considered as a complementary measure to established preventive practices
such as physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, hand hygiene and avoiding touching one’s
face. They are not replacements for these practices.
Visors/Face shields, their use and care
Visors/Face shields are simple, transparent screens that cover the face and help
prevent infectious droplets from entering the eyes, nose and mouth and should
extend to below the chin. They can be worn separately or in conjunction with
masks but are the most effective when worn in conjunction with masks,
blocking splashes and sprays from reaching the face and preventing people
from touching their faces. However, due to their design, they may allow
respiratory droplets to exit or enter through the open gaps between the visor
and the face. Since we do not yet have evidence that face shields are as effective as source control
or protection from respiratory droplets as masks, we recommend that masks should be used in
preference to visors (or in conjunction with them), while the use of visors alone is discouraged.
However in certain situations where a mask is not practical or cannot be tolerated ( e.g. children
with special needs, certain health issues) visors can be used as an alternative to masks.
The advantage of visors/face shields is their durability, allowing them to be worn an indefinite
number of times, the ability to easily clean them after use, their comfort, and that they may also
prevent the wearer from touching their face. Importantly, visors/face shields create a relative cover
for all the portals of entry for the virus: the eyes, the nose, and the mouth. They are available in
various sizes, including for children- but should not be worn by children under 3 years of age.
Visors/face shields typically consist of two main parts: a transparent visor that covers the face and
which is usually made of plastics such as polycarbonate, propionate, acetate, polyvinyl chloride (PVC),
and polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG); and a method of holding the visor in place, such as a
headband or strap.
The strap can be made of moulded plastic, 3D-printed plastic or even elastic. Some visors/face shields
are designed to be thrown away after a single use while others can be disinfected and reused.
Although evidence on visors/face shields is limited, what is available suggests that the following face
shields may provide better source control than others:
Face shields that wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend below the chin.

Hooded face shields.
Visors/Face shields that do not cover all the face are not recommended since they do not provide
adequate protection.
Visor/Face shield wearers should wash their hands before and after removing the face shield and
avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth when removing it.
Visors/Face shields should ideally be the reusable type and should be disinfected appropriately at
each use with alcohol wipes or disinfectant wipes or disinfectant spray or germicidal wipes or with
soap and water. They then should be left to dry before the next use.
Disposable visors/ face shields may be used as long as they keep their shape and remain intact.
If your visor/ face shield breaks, it must be replaced.
References:
Centre for Disease Control (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-gettingsick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
Centre for Disease Control. Page last reviewed: March 17, 2020 National Center for Immunization
and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-
ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/face-masks.html. Accessed 13 April 2020.
CWA 17553: Community face coverings – Guide to minimum requirements, methods of testing and
use. European Committee for Standardization, June 2020.
Davies Anna, Thompson Katy Anne, Giri Karthika, Kafatos George, Walker Jimmy and Bennett Allan.
Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic? Disaster
Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, Available on CJO 2013 doi:10.1017/dmp.2013.43
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Using face masks in the community – Reducing
COVID-19 transmission from potentially asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people through the use
of face masks. Stockholm: ECDC; 2020: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/usingface-masks-community-reducing-covid-19-transmission
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Safe use of personal protective
equipment in the treatment of infectious diseases of high consequence. Stockholm: ECDC; 2014.
Available from:
https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/media/en/publications/Publications/safe-use-ofppe.pdf
Government of Belgium. Coronavirus COVID-19. Fabric face masks. I protect you, you protect me.
https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/facemask/

Greenhalgh Trisha, Schmid Manuel B, Czypionka Thomas, Bassler Dirk, Gruer Laurence. Face masks
for the public during the covid-19 crisis BMJ 2020
Lopalco Pier Luigi. Universita di Pisa. Coronavirus e mascherine: quante ne esistono, come funzionano
e come usarle. 10 Aprile 2020 https://www.medicalfacts.it/2020/04/10/coronavirus-le-mascherinee-la-nuova-normalita/
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Rapid Expert Consultation on the
Effectiveness of Fabric Masks for the COVID-19 Pandemic (April 8, 2020). Washington, DC: The
National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25776.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Use of respirators and surgical masks
for protection against healthcare hazards [internet]. Atlanta: CDC; 2018 [accessed 10 April 2020].
Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/healthcarehsps/respiratory.html
Roberge R. J. (2016). Face shields for infection control: A review. Journal of Occupational and
Environmental Hygiene, 13(4), 235–242. https://doi.org/10.1080/15459624.2015.1095302
University of Maryland. (2020, April 3). Wearing surgical masks in public could help slow COVID-19
pandemic’s advance: Masks may limit the spread diseases including influenza, rhinoviruses and
coronaviruses. Science Daily. Retrieved April 10, 2020 from
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200403132345.htm
WHO Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 Interim guidance. 5 June 2020.

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