COVID-19, To Mask or not to mask

COVID-19, To Mask or not to mask

RELAY™ EMS (Pty) LTD is a private ambulance service operating within the Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth & Uitenhage), in Graaff-Reinet and Cradock. We offer you responsive and professional medical services for all medical and trauma-related emergencies including inter-hospital patient transfers, IOD’s, RAF, company EMS services, First Aid Training and Event Support.
The Relay EMS team consists of only qualified emergency care staff these include Advanced Life Support; Intermediate Life Support and Basic Life Support. Our vehicles are equipped and maintained to international standards, monitored by live tracing with computer-aided dispatching. When calling our 24/7 emergency number 0861 061 061 you will go through to our state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Centre, Relay EMS offers you the right people, training, equipment, and response.
Underpinned by our core values of professionalism, clinical excellence, compassion, innovation, and integrity, makes Relay EMS your first choice EMS provider.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, many new topics are been debated. One of the topics is face masks and should the public wear facemasks and do they provide protection?

We need to know how the coronavirus spreads. Current research shows that COVID-19 can be spread two ways. Firstly, within a 2m radius, an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes on you, you can contract the virus through your mouth, nose or eyes. Secondly, an infected person either coughs or sneezes on their hand or a surface, you then shake their hand or touch the surface, and transfer the virus to yourself by touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Containment and isolation are two critical components in the fight against COVID-19. With the National Lockdown, our Government is containing the spread of the virus. However, there are people classified as essential services who need to go to work, and for members of the public, times when you need to go to the shops for essential items. Do we then need to wear masks?

To answer this question, we need to know the types of masks, who should wear masks and the recommendations from the Government. There are three types of masks, N95 Respirators; Surgical Masks and Cloth Masks.


N95 respirators

Surgical Face Masks

Cloth Face Masks

Only for healthcare workers Healthcare workers will use these masks at healthcare facilities Public should wear them when going out.
Will be used by healthcare workers caring for infected or potentially infected patients whilst performing specific procedures. Patients at healthcare facilities may get these masks to wear to prevent droplet spreading in the healthcare facility. It can help prevent droplet spread by the person wearing the mask.
Critical Shortage of these masks and must only be used by healthcare workers. Shortage of these masks reserve them for healthcare facilities. Can be made at home, following guidelines**


The rapid spread of COVID-19 in the world has led to global shortages and shortages in South Africa of N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks. These masks are critical for the health care workers, who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle and should only be used by them.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in conjunction with the National Department of Health recommends the use of cloth masks for the public. Quoted from the guidelines issued by the National Department of Health “it is believed that, if the fabrics and filters used in a fabric of cloth masks are chosen suitably, these fabric face masks can play an important role in reducing the community transmission of COVID-19. In addition, they further appear to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces by acting as a barrier to touching one’s face.”

The cloth facemasks need to be used correctly and with the current lockdown regulations that are in place, social distancing and good hand hygiene. When using the cloth masks please make sure of the following:

  • Wash your hands before you put on the cloth mask.
  • Avoid touching the cloth mask and your face when you are wearing it.
  • When removing the cloth mask do not touch the front of the mask, take off the mask using the elastic bands on the side.
  • To disinfect the cloth mask, place it in boiling water for 5 minutes.
  • Wash your hands after taking off the cloth mask.



Let us all unite in the battle against COVID-19.