COVID-19: Face masks must be used properly, warns front line health expert

The New Times

On Monday, May 4, some public and private businesses resumed operations after more than 40 days of lock-down and the use of facemasks was one of the things that the government directed that everyone does, especially in public spaces.

Dr Yvonne Kayiteshonga, a health expert on the front line, on Tuesday, May 5, also acknowledged that much more public awareness is crucial.

She said: “Some are wearing it properly. Others are leaving the nose out. Others are behaving very badly; mouth and nose out when they are talking. This is bad because this removes any barrier. The purpose is to have a barrier between people’s droplets.”

“Also, when people use masks, they should know that a mask should not be shared. If it is a mask to use once, dispose of it after 6 hours.

Dr Kayiteshonga then shared a slide earlier issued by the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), clarifying some key dos and don’ts for the Rwandan public.

The Dos

Wear the face mask all the time you are amidst other people.

A face mask made from cloth is only used for six (6) hours after which it has to be replaced with a fresh one.

Once a cloth mask is dirty (or after 6 hours of use), it must be washed, dried and ironed before it is used again.

Have at least two face masks so that you have a ready replacement once one has been washed.

The Don’ts

Do not remove your face mask when you want to talk, sneeze, cough or work.

Don’t touch your face or mouth when wearing a face mask.

Don’t buy face masks from anywhere. Buy them from a pharmacy, supermarket and any other place authorised by the Rwanda Food and Drugs Authority.

Note that a face mask is bought when properly sealed. Do not try it out and (for example; when it doesn’t fit) return to the seller.

Do not carry or touch someone else’s face mask.

According to the World Health Organisation, masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning.

Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Cover your mouth and nose with a 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 the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.

To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

According to the WHO, masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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