French Medicine Academy: How to make Covid-19 mask

The French National Academy of Medicine, an independent body of leading doctors and scientists which gives health advice to the government, is recommending that everyone now wears a mask when going out - and has given details of how to make one with elastic bands and a paper napkin.

It advises (after washing hands with soap or hydroalcholic gel) simply folding a paper napkin into an accordion shape and placing a rubber band at each end, over which the edge of the towel is folded before being stapled. 

You can watch this step-by-step video to make yours: 

Many videos are available on the internet to make a mask but most of them require sewing, unlike this one. 

Professor Daniel Garin from the Academy and former head of virology for France's army health service said: "The principle of this mask is not to filter, but simply to prevent the spread in the air of saliva particles that are potentially contaminated by the virus."

As soon as it becomes wet, the mask should be thrown away and since it could be infected, it should only be touched by the elastic bands.

The Academy (Académie nationale de médecine) also stressed that the FFP2 mask, commonly known as “duck beak” masks should be reserved for medical staff as this type of mask protects against catching Covid-19, while the classic surgical mask only protects the environment around the wearer.

Professor Garin added: "If everyone wears a mask, it will prevent contamination around you." 

Recommendations on wearing a mask (or not) have evolved in France during the Covid-19 epidemic.

The mask shortage has also influenced the decisions of the government, which said the wearing of masks by the general public served no purpose and that masks were only useful for medical staff at the beginning of the epidemic. 

However, in the last few days, the government, and health minister Olivier Véran has said that France needs to make more masks and there has been debate about the widespread wearing of masks for all being part of deconfinement.

Some cities such as Nice or Cannes have said they want to make the wearing of masks obligatory but the Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner has asked all the prefects to withdraw these orders. He said that this was "a problematic subject" and the usefulness of masks has not been medically proven. 

The Academy of Medicine recommends that public authorities make the wearing of masks compulsory for everyone for short outings during the period of confinement or for future outings at the end of confinement.

The government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye said: "We will take a decision on the possible extension of the wearing of masks to the entire population as soon as we can build it on a scientific consensus." 

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