Covid-19 in UAE: Beware of fake masks; here's how to spot one
Dubai - UAE has advised everyone to wear face masks among other precautionary measures.
Even as Covid-19 continues to spread its tentacles, there are many unscrupulous dealers cashing in on the situation by selling fake face masks.
Experts and specialists are calling on the people to be wary and buy what they call the "first defence tools" from trusted sources.
Also read: Everyone in UAE advised to wear face mask
During the recent raids across the country, thousands of fake masks were seized. They were of unknown origin and didn't meet the prescribed standards, while posing health hazard.
Mohamed Kiwan, a physician, said one cannot safeguard his life or that of his beloved ones with unhealthy or risky masks that "provide no protection at all against Covid-19".
Fake masks are made of poor and cheap quality fabrics without any compliance to any health or protection standards, he added. "They are mostly prepared at unlicenced hideouts and in improper places."
Masks are mainly meant to provide initial protection against different kinds of pollutants, including gases and germs, he underlined. "Flouting certain standards, these masks not only fail to provide shield, but rather give a false sense of safety, and more dangerously, turn into a collector of dust and germs."
Dr Ahmed Abdul Naeem, a pharmacist, said there are different types of face masks depending on where and what they are used for. "A surgical mask, for example, cannot be used as a protection against poisonous gases, and the same applies to cloth-made masks which provide no protection at all, and easily get wet, attracting all kinds of pollutants."
Dr Mohamad Hamed, another pharmacist, said surgical masks are worn by patients to prevent their droplets from spreading and contaminating the place. "These can also be used by other people, but they do not provide 100 per cent protection, and may only be worn for maximum eight hours."
These water-proof masks must consist of three layers of filtration, as per the European and American standards, he pointed out. "Some other masks are for protection against nothing but dust and these provide no guard against Covid-19."
As for all types of N95 masks, they are advisable and proved to be more efficient against this lethal coronavirus, he averred. "Masks, in general, should be disposed of if touched, and a safe distance of at least two meters from patients must always be observed all the time."
How to spot a fake
Dr Roua Ramadan, a pharmacist, said anyone can do some easy tests to make sure that the face mask one is buying is genuine. "You may try testing it by pouring some water on a mask and holding it. If genuine, there will be no leak."
"You may also try the electrostatic absorption test by putting the mask on some little particles of plastic, for example; if some are attracted to the mask, it is genuine, she added. "Put on the mask, and blow some air while turning on a lighter on the other side. If the air you breathed out penetrated the mask and put out the lighter, then the mask is not genuine."
A genuine mask must consist of several layers of melt-blown, rather than no-woven, fabric. "It shall then block light and transmission and does not easily catch fire."
When to wear
*If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
*Wear it if you are coughing or sneezing.
* Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
How to wear and use
* Before putting it on, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
* Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
* Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
* Replace it with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use ones.
*Remove it from behind (do not touch the front); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands.
(Source: World Health Organisation)