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Wondering where to buy a face mask or face covering in the UK?
The UK government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have advised that we should all wear face coverings in public spaces when social distancing is not possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
It has become mandatory to wear face coverings when using public transport, in Ubers and in hospitals in England.
Wearing face coverings in shops will also be mandatory from July 10 in Scotland.
The UK government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have advised that we should all wear face coverings in public spaces when social distancing is not possible
What does a face covering do?
According to the UK government, evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms (this is called asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission), it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
Where to buy a face mask or face covering in the UK
The government has also stressed that face coverings do not replace social distancing.
‘Face masks protect mostly the other people especially when we talk and cough and sneeze,’ explains Dr May Gilbert GP at Pulse Light Clinic.
‘This will protect you from any contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that you may pass by whilst out. It will also prevent you from spreading any germs if you were to sneeze or cough.’
‘So if all of us use face masks then we will reduce spreading corona and other infections,’ Dr Gilbert continues.
‘We need to handle the masks properly, hands clean when removing and putting masks.’
‘I see people putting it on the neck and keep playing and touching the mask which might cause more problems and false reassurance.’
To remove your mask, take it off without touching the front and discard immediately into a closed bin. If the mask is reusable it should be washed after each use. It can go in with other laundry, using your normal detergent.
Are some masks more effective than others?
There are a number of face coverings available offering different levels of protection and it can be very confusing particularly if you are anxious about contracting COVID-19.
‘The best protection to you is offered by an FFP3 mask or respirator. Other types include N95 and surgical masks,’ explains ZoomClinic Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Raj Bhalla.
‘These have all been in quite short supply particularly as some hospital and community health services are being restored.’
He adds: ‘Masks and respirators should really continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.’
Dr Gilbert agreed, adding: ‘There is a shortage of medical and surgical masks and [they] must be reserved for medical professionals, so it is advised to make your own or buy from licensed places like Boots.’
There are a number of face coverings available that are reusable and washable. You can find them at retailers like Amazon, Boots , Lloyds Pharmacy and Etsy
Where to buy face masks and coverings in the UK?
A face covering is not the same as a surgical mask or respirator, but any covering, including a bandana, is better than none.
Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Raj Bhalla explains how you can buy ‘sensible quantities’ of masks from high street pharmacies, from DIY stores, and from popular online vendors.
Luckily, you have plenty of options. Face coverings that are reusable and washable are readily available from the likes of Amazon, Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Etsy. You’ll find a variety of non-medical grade patterned face coverings.
However, Mr Bhalla stressed that it’s important not to overstock and that only purchase as much as you need so that there is enough to go round.
How can I make a face covering at home?
You can make face coverings at home using common household items, such as cotton fabric from old T-shirts or bedding. A simple solution is using a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.
The key thing is that the face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably.
For more Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and support gov.uk/coronavirus.
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