In response to the continued rise of COVID-19 and the spread of the new COVID-19 strain in Iraq, the Iraqi government has responded by implementing new public health measures in an attempt to contain the virus. Starting from February 19th, 2021, the government announced the partial lockdown from 8 pm-5 am from Monday until Thursday, and the total lockdown from Friday until Sunday. Under the restrictions, funerals and weddings will be prohibited, and school and college classes will move online, in order to limit the gathering of people. Fines can reach up to IQD5 million for violations of these rules. It is not known for how long the lockdown will continue and the restrictions are subject to change.
The Supreme Committee for Health and Safety stresses the need to wear face masks in public places, including taxis and buses, and to abide by physical distancing, with the imposition of fines of up to 25,000 IQD for violations. Remember that wearing a face mask protects you and the people around you. It helps to reduce the risk of being exposed to an infected person whether they have symptoms or not. However, keep in mind that face masks alone cannot protect you from COVID-19, but it is also important to take in consideration other measures, such as:
- Avoid touching your eyes.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel
- Maintaining 1–2-meter distance from others
- Avoiding crowded spaces, as well as hugs and handshakes.
- You can use this article to learn about the existing types of face masks and how to wear them safely.
This article provides information on facemasks and how to use your facemask correctly, to increase your ability to protect yourself and others around you.
General tips on how to use face masks:
The WHO shared some basic tips that should apply to any type of face masks:
- Make sure that you have your own mask and do not share it with others.
- Resist the temptation to pull down your mask or take it off when speaking to other people.
- Do not store your mask around your arm or your wrist, and do not pull it down to rest around your chin or neck. Instead, store it in a clean plastic bag.
- Call 122in case you did not feel well.
Medical Face Mask
In general, a medical or surgical face mask offers higher protection from virus exposure.
Surgical face masks are recommended for those who are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms, including people who are over 60, have underlying medical conditions, are feeling unwell, or who are looking after an ill family member. Surgical masks are also for people who are suspected or confirmed to be infected to protect others from being infected. Please do remember that if you tested positive to Covid-19, you must stay at home in isolation for a minimum of 10 days and test negative at least once. Surgical masks are for single use only and can be used for a maximum of 4-8 hours. It is not recommended to use them multiple times.
How to safely use and dispose of your surgical face mask?
The WHO has produced a short video to explain some basic rules to safely wear and discard your face mask. Make sure you respect them, in order to protect yourself and others.
Fabric Face or Clothe Masks
Fabric masks are non-medical masks made of cloth. It is important you understand that fabric masks are not personal protective equipment. However, fabric masks can protect others around you if you are infected but do not show Covid-19 symptoms. Please keep in mind that fabric masks are proven to be less effective than surgical ones.
Fabric masks are affordable and environment-friendly, but you need to be careful about the composition and its maintenance. Cloth face masks should:
- Include multiple layers of fabric that allow you to breathe easily. More details on the materials and composition of a suitable fabric can be found here.
- Fit closely but comfortably, covering nose, mouth, and chin.
- Be washed with soap (at 60 degrees) or decontaminated after every use.
How to sew your own fabric face mask
According to WHO, fabric masks should ideally have three layers, with the following characteristics:
- The outer layer should be a water-repellent material like polyester or polypropylene.
- The middle layer can be an insert or a fabric layer (ideally made of a spun-bond non-woven fabric material) and acts as a filter.
- The inner player should be moisture absorbing fabric such as cotton.
If you have more questions on facemasks and their use, or general questions about COVID-19 – here are some resources:
What sources I should check for information and updates about the Covid-19 situation in Iraq: