Wearing a face mask under your nose is useless – and the sooner people figure that one out, the better.
It’s a pretty common sight on public transport, in shops and, well... everywhere really – especially with face masks now mandatory in many indoor public settings.
People are picking up on the face mask error – and happily sharing their views on Twitter.
Dr. Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School, says wearing a mask under the nose “is not a good idea at all.”
“Most people inhale and exhale through their noses, so the majority of virus particles – if they are being released while not talking – will be coming out through their nose route rather than their mouth route,” he explains.
People who wear a mask like this might also think they’re protected, so they do what Pankhania calls “risk compensation,” where they don’t socially distance properly – and therefore those around them are susceptible to their germs.
“They think: ‘I’m wearing a mask therefore I can take part in a little bit more than if I was not wearing a mask,’” he explains. “But the truth is you’re not wearing a mask, you’re wearing a pretend mask.”
He likens this risk compensation to the days when people didn’t wear seatbelts and parents with children would drive more carefully to protect their little ones. When wearing seatbelts became mandatory, some people took a little less caution with their driving.
To put it simply: the whole point of a face mask is to keep the droplets you expel (from your mouth and your nose) under wraps. Covering up one escape route is not great.
Think of wearing a mask like a kitchen with two doorways. The doorways lead on to other rooms in a house. If there’s a fire and you have two closed fire doors blocking the way, the fire will stay in that room for a period of time.
If you have one fire door and the other door is left open, the fire will inevitably escape through the open entrance and will spread to the other rooms, causing havoc.
Alternatively, there are some other ways of looking at it, kindly supplied by Twitter.
You get the drift. Even this swan gets it...
How should you wear a mask then?
To wear a mask properly, it must cover your nose and mouth. You don’t want lots of gaps around the sides of your face mask or face covering either.
If possible, masks should fit snugly on the chin (almost forming a seal to the skin) and sit just under your eyes to get a proper seal over the bridge of your nose – while making sure it’s still comfortable for you to breathe.
And remember, keep 2m away from others as much as possible.
Pankhania wants to see a government campaign telling people how to wear a mask properly and the reasons why they have been asked to wear a mask.