New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic has sparked an acute global shortage of protective face masks. In India too, medical stores and e-commerce websites are running out of masks and sanitisers.
In fact, in countries reeling under the onslaught of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a sharp spike in the prices of masks was noted. In February, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, removed thousands of deals from merchants that it claimed were trying to price-gouge customers, a Reuters report said.
Given the limited availability of N95 masks, experts say that it is essential that surgical masks and respirators be reserved for healthcare workers, who face a greater risk of contracting the infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a premier national public health institute of the United States, cautions healthcare workers against using homemade masks and says it must only be done as a last resort.
Many medical professionals, however, believe that homemade masks can, to a certain degree, offer protection to the general public.
“People that would normally wear a mask like cancer patients going to their chemo appointments, immune-compromised people or senior citizens going to the grocery store, can wear these masks,” Joyce Fulton, a registered nurse told Business Insider India.
In light of the paucity of N95 masks, the trend of homemade masks has caught on. These homemade masks can be made using readily-available materials. These masks can be made even if one does not know how to sew.
Experts point out that to make masks that are effective, adequate layering is a must. Besides this, the mask should also cover the mouth and nose, to ensure the entry of particles.
“Masks with a silky outer layer (if possible), middle layer of a thick, tightly woven material like nylon or cotton, and then a comfortable cotton on the inside are ideal,” Shawn Nasseri, MD, was quoted as saying by Business Insider.
Here’s how you can make your own mask:
1. Begin with two pieces of rectangular fabric large enough to cover your mouth and nose. Sturdy cloth materials like nylon, cotton, denim and thick shirts are great options. Fabrics that are knitted or materials that tear upon stretching must be avoided.
2. Stitch the two fabrics together and then sew the rear edge shut.
3. Now, fold one side of the edge, and using an elastic rubber-band, start stitching the fabric while ensuring that the piece of elastic is firmly inside the fold that you’ve made.
4. After you’ve begun stitching, stretch the elastic piece tightly and stitch further till you’ve reached the end of the fold.
5. Repeat the process on the other side as well.
6. It is important that you stitch more than once at the beginning and end of the fold as the elastic would be exerting pressure on those two ends.