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Infectious diseases are mainly transmitted through contact. For example, the novel coronavirus is mainly transmitted through droplets or feces. Therefore the most effective way to protect yourself from infection is to maintain personal hygiene: wash your hands frequently and wear a mask when you go out.

However, people often do not pay enough attention to these seemingly easy protective measures, and overlook the effectiveness of their protective functions. The following information explains why we need to wash our hands and wear masks.

Choose the right hand wash and sanitizer
 
Lliquid soap and water or sanitizer with alcohol content are generally sufficient in keeping your hands clean. 

When buying hand sanitizing products. Choose those with 70-80% alcohol content. According to the World Health Organization, most alcohol sanitizers contain ethanol, isopropanol, n-propanol, or a combination of those.

Recently, the Hong Kong Consumer Council tested 35 hand sanitizers, 13 of which detected preservatives CMIT and/or MIT, and some found with free formaldehyde and antimicrobial agent PCMX, which may cause skin allergic reactions for some people. Of the eight samples that claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria, only two were successful in killing 99.9% + of the two bacteria in the test. Another two samples were far less effective in killing E. coli as claimed by them. For more details, please refer to the Consumer Council's full test report
 
Proper Steps to clean your hands :
  1. Wash your hands with liquid and water as follows:
  1. Wet your hands with running water.
  2. Apply liquid soap and rub hands together to make a soapy lather.
  3. Move your hands away from running water. Scrub hands following the 7 steps of hand cleaning. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do not rinse off the soap while scrubbing.
  4. Rinse hands thoroughly under running water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly with either a clean cotton towel or a paper towel.
  6. Do not touch the water tap directly with your cleaned hands after washing. You could for instance use a paper towel to turn the faucet off.
  1. Wash your hands with alcohol-based sanitizer:
  1. Apply an adequate palmful of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Scrub hands following 7 steps of hand cleaning for at least 20 seconds until the hands are dry.
 
Buying Masks
 
Although it may be difficult to find face masks in the market during the most critical stage of a virus outbreak, it is still necessary to pay attention to whether the face masks meet the quality standards, otherwise the masks will not protect us.

There are many types of masks on the market, for example N95 masks, medical masks, strap-type surgical masks, activated carbon masks, sponge masks, cotton masks, paper masks ...
 
  • Masks that can filter out viral droplets
    N95 mask: Poor breathability, suitable for front-line medical staff.
    Medical masks: Can filter out 95% of bacteria, suitable for health care workers or the general public.
    Strap-type surgical masks: Can block off most 5-micron sized particles. These are highly compact masks and are commonly used by doctors during operations.
  • Masks that are unable to filter out viral dropletsActivated carbon masks:
    These can absorb organic gas and toxic dust, suitable for paint spray operations or pesticide spray use.
    Sponge mask: These masks can block off large particles or pollen.
    Cotton mask: can block off large particles. These masks  can be reused after washing and are suitable for keeping warm outdoors.
    Paper mask: Can block off large particles. Once it gets wet it is no longer effective .
Some mask products specify that they comply with the standards (F2100-11, European standard, EN14683, or Taiwan model CNS14774) stipulated by the American Society for Testing and Materials. This may be useful too as a reference.
 
More info can be found in the Consumer Council link below

 https://echoice.consumer.org.hk/f/article/2256/494_p14-21a.pdf
 
Source:https://health.businessweekly.com.tw/AArticle.aspx?id=ARTL000126163

Wearing a mask
  1. Clean your hands before putting on a mask.
  2. The mask should be worn snugly over the face: In general, the colored side / the side with folds facing downwards should be worn outwards with the metallic strip uppermost.
  3. For tie-on masks, secure upper ties at the crown of head . Then secure lower ties at the nape. For ear-loops type, position the elastic bands around both ears.
  4. Extend the mask to fully cover mouth, nose and chin.
  5. Press the metallic strip over the nose bridge and the mask should be worn snugly over the face.
  6. Avoid touching the mask after having put it on.
  7. If you must touch the mask, hands should be cleaned before and after the touching .
 
Taking off a mask
  1. Wash your hands before taking off the mask.
  2. When taking off the strap-on mask, you should first untie the strap on the back of the neck and then the strap on the top of the head. When taking off the ear-mounted mask, avoid touching the outward facing side of the mask, as this part may have been contaminated by virus.
  3. Fold the mask from inside out and dispose of it in a covered bin, then immediately clean your hands.
 
 
Reference: