Information on the need to use masks

19 March 2021

In accordance with Article 28 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On the Sanitary and Epidemiological Well-Being of the Population" of January 7, 2012 No. 340-Z, citizens are obliged to comply with the legislation in the field of sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population, carry out or participate in the implementation of sanitary and anti-epidemic measures, take care of their own health and the health of their children.

In accordance with paragraph 40 of the Sanitary Norms and Rules "Requirements for the Organization and Conduct of Sanitary and Anti-Epidemic Measures Aimed at Preventing the Introduction, Emergence and Spread of Influenza and COVID-19 Infection" approved by the Resolution of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus of December 29, 2012 No. 217, sanitary and anti-epidemic measures aimed at preventing the onset and spread of COVID-19 infection are determined in comprehensive plans.

Comprehensive plans are approved in accordance with the established procedure by local executive and administrative bodies depending on the intensity of the epidemic process development and then are accepted for execution.

Paragraph 26 of the Comprehensive Plan of Sanitary and Anti-Epidemic Measures Aimed at Preventing the Emergence and Spread of COVID-19 Infection in the City of Minsk approved by the decision of the Minsk City Executive Committee of April 7, 2020 No. 1069 "On Approval of the Comprehensive Plan" (as amended by the decisions of the Minsk City Executive Committee of 13.08.2020 No. 2710, 22.10.2020 No. 3436, 12.11.2020 No. 3674) envisages to ensure the use of personal respiratory protection equipment (mask) when visiting objects (immovable and movable) and organizations of all forms of ownership of Minsk (shops, shopping centers, catering facilities (except for the time of direct meals), pharmacies, healthcare institutions, educational institutions, social services, sports facilities, administrative buildings, bank branches, communication facilities, post offices, consumer services, cultural institutions, entertainment centers, public transport, including route taxis, taxi cars, subway and other objects).

In accordance with Article 60 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of January 4, 2010 No. 108-Z "On Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Belarus", decisions of executive and administrative bodies adopted within the competence are binding on subordinate executive bodies, administrative bodies and other organizations and citizens located in the respective territory.

Regarding the feasibility of using medical masks, it is necessary to take into account that the function of the mask is to block moisture drops that are formed during coughing and sneezing and in which microorganisms (viruses, bacteria, etc.) may be suspended.

At the same time, it is possible to use non-medical disposable masks and fabric multilayer masks (the degree of filtration and moisture resistance depends on the material and the number of layers), which belong to personal hygiene items for the prevention of COVID-19.

Disposable masks, masks made of textile materials are recommended to be changed every 2 hours, and this is due to their moistening during breathing. If they have individual characteristics, citizens can change masks as often as necessary. A citizen with any dysfunctions of the respiratory system or the presence of allergic reactions can independently choose a four-layer bandage made of woven cotton materials that will not cause unpleasant sensations to him when used. There is no information in the available information sources on the possible risks and side effects in cases when masks are used correctly.

Before putting on the mask, wash your hands under running water with soap. If there is no access to running water, treat your hands with an antiseptic. Put on the mask while holding it for the ear clips. Pinch the metal edge of the mask firmly on the nose. If there are special folds on the mask, they must be straightened. The mask should cover the mouth, nose and chin. After use, remove the mask by holding the ear loops, place it in a plastic bag and then, if the mask is disposable, in a waste container. The processing of reusable masks and subsequent use is carried out on an individual basis using detergents, disinfectants or other agents recommended by the manufacturer. 

In accordance with the recommendations of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus, before reusing a multiple-use mask, it is necessary to wash it in hot water (at least 60 degrees) with soap or washing powder and then iron it. If it is not possible to process a reusable mask immediately, it should be placed in an individual bag.

In accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), children aged 5 years and younger should not wear masks. In some cases, it is possible to use a medical mask by children under 5 years old, for example, when a sick person is near the child. In this case, if the child is wearing a mask, a parent or other adult nearby should be close, keep the child in sight to control the safe use of the mask.

According to WHO and UNICEF, wearing a medical mask for children aged 6-11 is possible if: there is a risk to transmit the infection to the place of child’s residence; the child is able to use the mask safely and correctly; it is possible to change the mask to a clean one on time (for example, in schools and childcare facilities); children are supervised by an adult who instructs the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks; the child interacts with other people who are at high risk of developing serious illnesses, such as the elderly and people with other concomitant diseases.

Children aged 12 and older are advised to wear masks in the same way as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee a distance of at least 1 meter from others in public places where there is a risk of transmission.

The implementation of the Comprehensive Plan of Sanitary and Anti-Epidemic Measures aimed at preventing the emergence and spread of COVID-19 infection in Minsk made it possible to improve the sanitary and epidemiological situation in Minsk and significantly reduce the incidence of coronavirus infection. Thus, the observance of the mask regime has shown its effectiveness.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones! Be healthy!