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Coronavirus face masks: Are they safe to wear more than once? Dr Hilary’s stark warning

Can face masks protect people from getting coronavirus? The effectiveness of face masks has been widely debated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a facemark if you are sick, and authorities in cities such as Wuhan made it mandatory for the public to wear face masks. But some experts have suggested certain masks, particularly paper masks, offer no protection.


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While the debate continues, countries across the globe have faced face mask shortages.

For people wearing face masks to protect themselves against the virus, can the same mask be worn more than once?

TV doctor Dr Hilary appeared open ITV’s Good Morning Britain with Lorraine to offer his advice.

He said: “In an ideal world you wouldn’t use a mask twice…

“If they’re paper masks and they become moist they should be thrown away – full stop.”

But if masks are dry, Dr Hilary said they could be reused.

But before you take them off and after you take them off you should wash tour hands.

He said: “If they’ve dried out, the same person could use them again.”

Dr Hilary went on to discuss different types of face masks and their quality.

He said: “In intensive care units (ICU) they’re air tight and much higher quality.

“If they’re cloth or paper – in theory you can reuse them again.

“But it’s not ideal, they need to be dry and handled very carefully.”


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When it comes to other prevention methods, the UK government has advised people stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

People should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

The NHS also advises ways people can stop the infection spreading.

It says:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get back home
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

You should not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

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