Coronavirus: The dos and don'ts of using a facemask

There's huge debate over the use of personal protective equipment, who should use it and when.

But how facemasks are used is also vital and if we're not using them properly we could be putting ourselves at higher risk.

New guidance this week from the World Health Organization says healthy people out in public don't need to wear face masks. However, some experts are in favour.

"It's a good safety procedure to wear a mask when you go outside when you know you can be exposed," said Associate Professor Arindam Basu, from the University of Canterbury's School of Health Sciences.

"By wearing a mask you can protect yourself and protect the other person."

There are key things you should do before touching your mask; it's important to wash your hands and check it's the right way around before fitting it on your face.

Then, pinch the metal strip over your nose and adjust to cover your mouth and chin. Once it's on, leave it on and don't put it under your chin. 

Photo taken in Bangkok, Thailand
Photo credit: Getty

Do not touch the front of the mask to avoid contamination. 

"You're exposing yourself to the viral pathogens so you just don't know what has accumulated or what is on the cover of that mask," Basu explains.

How you take the mask off is just as important; make sure you take off the straps without touching the front of the mask.

If it's a single-use mask, put it in the bin. If it's a homemade mask, wash it after each wear. 

Then wash or sanitise your hands.