Surgical Masks! WHO Guidelines to Use it Correctly for Protection against Coronavirus

At the end of 2019, a virus from the class of coronavirus emerged in China. Since its emergence, it has rapidly spread over the 200 countries in the world. The scientists have named this coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2. However, the disease caused by this coronavirus is known as COVID-19.

The symptoms of coronavirus vary from person to person. Some don’t even observe any symptoms, and some feel mild illness. While some cases go into the complexities of breathing difficulty, severe pneumonia, and even respiratory organ failure. However, people with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to get seriously ill.

Thus, healthcare specialists have strictly advised using face masks as protection against the spread of coronavirus. However, many people don’t even have basic knowledge about face masks.

In this article, the WHO guidelines on how to use the surgical face masks correctly will be presented. It will help the reader to learn about the right way of using the surgical masks as protection against coronavirus and many more.

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Surgical Masks! WHO Guidelines to Correctly Use it for Protection against Coronavirus

What are the types of Face Masks?

There are several types of masks used to cover the face. Face protection gears range from proper surgical grade face masks, respirators to simple homemade cloth masks or bandannas.

The surgical masks and N95 respirators both come under the category of respirators and the standard of these masks manufacturing and use are regulated by the food and drug administration (with some collaboration with NIOSH on respirators).

Furthermore, the healthcare professionals pass surgical masks and N95 respirators face through a set of tests to analyze their fluid resistance, flammability, biocompatibility, and filtration efficiency.

Surgical Masks

However, the WHO advises N95 respirators to the workers who are more vulnerable to respiratory infections to high exposure with respiratory patients, respiratory secretions, splashes, fumes, sprays, viruses, and bacteria.

Furthermore, there are tons of videos available online on face masks DIY and homemade face masks. However, all these techniques make use of material that doesn’t even pass the fluid resistance test. Thus, the use of such face masks isn’t helpful to provide protection against coronavirus COVID-19 breakout.

A very basic introduction about the surgical mask and N95 respirator is presented earlier. Let’s discuss a little more to learn how the surgical masks are helpful to protect us from getting coronavirus or COVID-19.

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Surgical Masks

Surgical masks are flat and rectangular shape. These masks have to loosely fit around the nose, mount, and chin thus make of paper-like material. Most importantly, these face masks are the disposable masks to use for only one time. Thus, the user shouldn’t use the same mask multiple times and dispose of it as per prescribed instructions.

Surgical Mask Font and Side View

The surgical masks protect against splashes, sprays or large-particle droplets that may contain infectious particles or germs like viruses. As the mask covers the nose and mouth of the wearer. Thus, asthma patients use this mask regularly.

So, it prevents germs from reaching into the respiratory tract of a person. Furthermore, the surgical face masks also somehow protect the respiratory secretions of patients released into the air when sneezed.

Although, some surgical masks also include a clear and wraparound shield to protect the area of cheeks, eyes, and forehead. Nowadays, people who are performing the coronavirus screening tests wear such masks as a barrier against the prolonged exposure to coronavirus patients.

WHO Guidelines to use Face Masks

It can be on any design or pattern and color. However, normally it’s a flat and rectangle shape with folds. There is a thin metal strip on one large edge of the rectangle. It is pressed against the nose for the proper sitting of the mask.

Furthermore, elastic bands are available to loop over the ears to hold the face mask in place. There are two faces of the mask. One side may have different color typically green. However, the other face is cloud white. The use of a mask is directional. So, please read the instructions in the section on how to use face masks.

Surgical masks don’t provide complete protection against the small particles in the air especially against particles released by the respiratory patients.

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WHO Guidelines on How to Correctly use the Surgical Masks

The correct use of a surgical mask is very important for protection against coronavirus. Thus, the World Health Organization has offered advice for the people on how to put on, use, take off, and dispose of surgical masks for protection against the vulnerable spread of coronavirus. Steps to correctly use surgical mask are:

Surgical Mask, stethoscope and Soap
  • Make sure the face mask isn’t intact and doesn’t have any tears or holes.
  • Do wash your hands before touching the mask to put on. Also, WHO recommends washing the hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. However, the use of alcohol-based sanitizers is also helpful to kill the germs.
  • Properly cover the nose and mouth with the surgical mask. Please make sure to left no gaps between the mask and the face.
  • Don’t touch the mask while using it. As the front side of the mask contains infectious germs due to direct exposure to the environment.
  • If you have mistakenly touched your mask. Immediately wash or sanitize your hands without touching your face, anyone else, or any surface.
  • Replace the mask when it gets damp, or slightly wet.
  • Do not reuse the surgical mask as these are for one time use.
  • Remove the mask by unlooping the elastic bands rather than touching the front face of the mask.
  • Properly discard the mask, wash your hands and wear a new mask as per instruction given above


The WHO guidelines to use a surgical mask are pretty clear. Everyone should follow this procedure of using a surgical mask for absolute protection against coronavirus.

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