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Guidance on face masks

Guidance on Face Masks (revised text) – for people who have been on the Island for 14 days or more

Currently, COVID-19 is not circulating in the Isle of Man. However, given the high levels of COVID-19 worldwide, we cannot guarantee the Island will remain COVID-free.  We expect to see imported cases (related to travel) being identified here and we will aim to contain them through the test and trace system. We may also see limited outbreaks resulting from travel off Island. We will aim to control these outbreaks without having to go back to ‘lockdown’.  This will involve implementing measures known to reduce spread of COVID-19 which could contain the virus without the need for further restrictions or ‘lockdown’. Wearing face coverings in the community is one measure that can reduce spread.

The Public Health Directorate recommends that all households should prepare for possible further outbreaks of COVID-19 by securing non-medical grade face masks (coverings) for all household members.

There is increasing evidence that wearing a non-medical face mask or covering prevents the wearer from unknowingly passing on the virus to other people.   There is also some evidence that it may have some effect in preventing the wearer from catching COVID-19.

The risk of transmission of COVID-19 varies in different settings and depending on how crowded the environment is, how long you are there for and the type of ventilation. The tables shows the level of risk in different settings and how this can be reduced by wearing a face covering:

Type and level of group activity Low occupancy
Outdoors and well ventilated Indoors and well ventilated Poorly
ventilated
Wearing face coverings, contact for a short time
Silent Low Low Low
Speaking Low Low Low
Shouting, singing Low Low Medium
Wearing face coverings, contact for a prolonged time
Silent Low Low Medium
Speaking Low *Low Medium
Shouting, singing Low Medium High
No face coverings, contact for a short time
Silent Low Low Medium
Speaking Low Medium Medium
Shouting, singing Medium Medium High
No face coverings, contact for a prolonged time
Silent Low Medium High
Speaking Medium Medium High
Shouting, singing Medium High High

 

Type and level of group activity High occupancy
Outdoors and well ventilated Indoors and well ventilated Poorly
ventilated
Wearing face coverings, contact for a short time
Silent Low Low Medium
Speaking Low Low Medium
Shouting, singing Medium Medium High
Wearing face coverings, contact for a prolonged time
Silent Low Medium High
Speaking *Medium Medium High
Shouting, singing Medium High High
No face coverings, contact for a short time
Silent Medium Medium High
Speaking Medium High High
Shouting, singing High High High
No face coverings, contact for a prolonged time
Silent Medium High High
Speaking High High High
Shouting, singing High High High

* Borderline case that is highly dependent on quantitative definitions of distancing, number of individuals and time of exposure.

The table is from:  Jones NR, Qureshi ZU, Temple RJ, et al, ‘Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in covid-19?’, British Medical Journal, 2020, 370:m3223

When COVID-19 is circulating, wearing a face covering is particularly important in busy, enclosed spaces such as supermarkets or grocery stores or when using public transport. As we move into winter and we spend more time indoors in poorly ventilated spaces, face coverings will help protect us in settings where we spend long periods of time such as work places and even within the home. Face coverings will also help reduce the spread of other respiratory viruses (colds and flu) which are more common in the winter.

Non-medical masks can be made of cloth, textiles or paper and be home-made or commercially manufactured. Commercially manufactured masks can be bought from a wide range of retail outlets and on-line. Instructions for making simple home-made masks out of readily available materials can easily be found on line. The US Centres for Disease Control have instructions for home-made masks and the BBC has instructions.

Remember that wearing a mask does not replace the need to follow the other key recommended actions to prevent virus spread

It is also important to use the mask appropriately.  It should completely cover your face from the bridge of the nose to the chin, and fit snugly against the sides of your face.  Clean your hands with soap and water or sanitiser before putting on and taking off the mask.  When taking off the mask, remove it from behind to avoid touching the front which may have become contaminated with virus.

If the mask is reusable, wash it as soon as possible after each use, using household laundry detergent at 60 C.

Be careful to remove the mask from behind and avoid adjusting the mask while you are wearing it. Incorrect removal and frequent adjustment increase the risk of touching your face and potentially increasing virus transmission.

While some people may find wearing masks uncomfortable, there is no evidence the appropriate use of masks causes any health issues. Do not use a mask on young children under two, anyone who has difficulty breathing or anyone who for any reason is unable to take the mask off themselves.

Recommendations on the use of masks have been added to the government’s COVID-19 Response Levels:

Framework linking guidance on use of face coverings in the community to the levels in the COVID-19 Response plan.

Response Level

Level of COVID-19 transmission Face covering guidance
1 Stay Responsible No community transmission – sporadic imported cases only No change from present guidance:  while there is no evidence of virus circulating in the community, use of face coverings is a personal decision
First confirmed case of community transmission Strengthen guidance to: use of face coverings in enclosed crowded places (shops, public buildings) and on public transport is recommended
2 Stay Safe Virus is circulating in the community (two or more community cases with no causal links identified) Use of face coverings in enclosed crowded places and on public transport is strongly recommended
3 Stay at Home Sustained spread of virus in the community Use of face coverings in enclosed crowded places and on public transport is strongly recommended
4 Lockdown Sustained local transmission, multiple transmission chains from unrelated cases, rapid doubling time in number of cases Use of face coverings in enclosed crowded places and on public transport is strongly recommended

Guidance for people who have returned on Island in the last 14 days:

If you are going to self-isolate for 14 days from arrival you should wear a face covering whilst travelling to the Island and whilst travelling to the address where you will be self-isolating. If you are self-isolating in a household with other people, you should remain in your own room in line with the guidance given to you. You should wear a face covering when moving through communal areas (other household members should not be present while you do so) to reduce the risk of droplet contamination to surfaces.