Good prospects! The restaurants are open again! But what to do with the mask when I can finally take it off? Expert in an interview

by Moritz Mueller on July 21, 2021

Mask hygiene: Interview with an expert


It is well known how masks should be put on and worn correctly. Nevertheless, there are many unanswered questions when it comes to using the mask. Because the etiquette rules for wearing and stowing the mask have not yet been written. We spoke to Anna Stepien-Czarniecka. She tells us what is most important when it comes to mask hygiene.

When and how often should you disinfect your hands when visiting a restaurant?
Even if the first thought when entering the restaurant is to wash your hands, it should be part of your routine to disinfect your hands again with your own disinfectant while sitting at the table. This is because as you move through the restaurant and open different doors or generally touch different surfaces, the possibility of cross-contamination increases. Only after disinfecting your hands should the mask be removed using the elastic bands.

When does a mask become a “germ slinger”?

This happens relatively quickly. For example, if the mask is repeatedly touched while wearing it. This is often the case when the mask does not fit properly and you constantly correct and reposition it. The germs from the mask get to the hands and the germs from the hands get to the mask. You can catch Corona as a smear infection. However, this can be easily prevented.


Where is the best place to put the mask?
Practice has shown that many people pull the mask under their chin, attach it to their arm or simply place it on the table when drinking or eating. Many doctors also have different opinions on this, but everyone agrees that “putting the mask on the table” is a no-go!

Why is that the case?
Pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 are spread through the air and through droplets that are produced when speaking and breathing. This means that even during a short discussion, for example with friends and family or with a colleague at work, droplets get onto the mask and contaminate it.

On the other hand, the tables and other surfaces are usually contaminated with germs, despite regular cleaning. If the mask is then placed on the table, the table is contaminated with the germs from the mask and the mask is contaminated with the germs from the table. If you put the mask on again after eating and breathe in really deeply - because as we all know it makes it harder to breathe through the mask - the germs may be catapulted straight into your lungs.

Where is the best place to store the mask?
A container that does not allow the mask to come into contact with the table or other surfaces and allows air circulation is ideal. If possible, the container should be made of an antiviral and antibacterial material, such as the antiviral mask cases from “Just in Case”. These are designed in such a way that the trapezoidal air holes help the mask dry.
If you don't have something like this, an air-permeable fabric bag or a clean paper bag is suitable so that the mask can dry in the meantime. If the mask is stored airtight, bacteria and fungi that reach the mask through your breath can multiply. This in turn could lead to skin blemishes and fungal infections for the wearer if the incorrectly stored mask is put on again.

Are chains and lanyards suitable for storing masks?
The new fashion accessories such as mask straps, on which the mask hangs in front of the chest after it is removed, expose the inside of the mask to the air. This means you risk contamination by pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 and come into direct contact with it when putting on the mask.

Why do people who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered also have to wear a mask?
Vaccination is very important to get the pandemic under control. Although existing vaccinations are very effective, they are not 100% effective. There is always a risk of becoming infected and spreading that infection. The ongoing new COVID 19 mutations that are circulating around the world do not yet allow us to estimate how vaccinations will protect against them. And as long as larger numbers of newly infected people are registered, it is recommended to continue to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask. That's why the mask will stay with us for quite a while.

What do you think: will the mask requirement remain?
We all hope that the masks will soon disappear, like they already do outdoors. However, in other areas such as trains, buses or planes, the mask will remain a proven protective measure.

Published by CSS Insurance
A big thank you to Rosalie Mutter, editor at CSS Insurance, who asked us for the expert article on the topic of health promotion and hygiene. Anna Stepien-Czarniecka, biologist at ETH Zurich, in an interview about the “dos and don’ts” of mask hygiene. Here you go

1 comment
by Barbara Schori on August 24, 2021

Ist die Maske waschbar? Ich stelle mir vor, dass diese nach einer gewissen Tragdauer auch einmal gewaschen werden muss.
Merci für ein Feedback
Barbara

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