CUBA: A student in Havana wears a skull face mask as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus as he leaves school for the day. (Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press)
Wearing a face mask often helps people feel protected and reassured. A surgical face mask can help keep you from being exposed to or transmitting certain infectious diseases. The World Health Organization recommends using surgical masks only if you have a fever, cough or other respiratory symptoms, or if you are well but caring for someone with a respiratory illness. In the latter case, the mask should be worn when you are within six feet of the ill person.
Although the N95 surgical mask should be reserved for healthcare professionals, everyday citizens can create their own face masks to trap larger respiratory droplets. Such homemade masks should fit snugly on the face, so airborne particles won’t leak out or in through the sides.
While there is a global shortage of protective masks, people in far-flung areas around the world are getting creative in making their own. Here are a number of examples of people wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
MOROCCO: A 55-year-old street vendor named Abderrahim poses for a portrait while wearing a mask made of fig leaves in Rabat. (Mosa’ab Elshamy / Associated Press)UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: In early March, cosplayers in masks attend the Middle East Comic-Con in Dubai. (Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press)UNITED STATES: A commuter dons a face mask as he navigates New York City’s transit system. (John Minchillo / Associated Press)LEBANON: A bearded man covers his face with a punched-out surgical mask in Beirut. (Hussein Malla / Associated Press)ETHIOPIA: A soldier creates a makeshift mask with his helmet’s chinstrap to protect against the coronavirus in Addis Ababa. (Mulugeta Ayene / Associated Press)CZECH REPUBLIC: A woman covers her nose and mouth with a knitted scarf as she wait for a subway train in Prague. (Petr David Josek / Associated Press)SPAIN: A 21-year-old man named Javier wears a face mask and helmet while waiting to make a food delivery on his bike outside a Barcelona restaurant. (Felipe Dana / Associated Press)CAMBODIA: A woman dons a scarf as she watches social workers spray disinfectant to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in the slum neighborhood of Stung Meanchey in southern Phnom Penh. (Heng Sinith / Associated Press)GERMANY: An employee of a children’s home called AtemReich wears a donated face mask in Munich. AtemReich workers had asked people via social media to sew protective masks for them due to the coronavirus crisis. (Sven Hoppe / Associated Press)GERMANY: Katja Kipping, co-chairwoman of the German Left Party, wears a scarf as a face mask during a meeting of the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin. (Michael Sohn / Associated Press)PERU: A woman stuffs paper into her mouth, her alternative to a face mask, as she waits in line for a free lunch from a charity organization that helps the homeless in Lima. (Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press)BRITAIN: A surgical mask nearly covers a woman’s entire face as she seeks to protect herself from the coronavirus while taking a walk in London. (Frank Augstein / Associated Press)CZECH REPUBLIC: A woman wears a bedazzled face mask in downtown Prague. (Petr David Josek / Associated Press)THAILAND: A volunteer at a COVID-19 screening center in Bangkok wears a face mask and a face shield. (Gemunu Amarasinghe / Associated Press)VENEZUELA: A woman wears a lacey homemade face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus as she waits in line to buy food in Caracas. (Ariana Cubillos / Associated Press)UNITED STATES: A hay bale along the edge of a cattle pasture near Florence, Kansas, is adorned with a surgical mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Travis Heying / Associated Press)COLOMBIA: A Venezuelan migrant wears a mask that reads “Let’s go Venezuela” in Spanish as he walks toward the Venezuelan border from Bogota. The Colombian government ordered a lockdown in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Fernando Vergara / Associated Press)CROATIA: A woman in Zagreb wears a colorful cotton mask designed by Croatian designer Zoran Aragovic. (Denis Lovrovic / AFP via Getty Images)UNITED STATES: A photographer covers his face in New York City’s Times Square during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Roy Rochlin / Getty Images)CHINA: A woman wears ski goggles and a protective mask as she checks in to a flight at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)CHINA: A child wearing a protective mask is covered in plastic while waiting to check in to a flight at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)CHINA: Chinese children wear masks and plastic bottles over their faces as protection against the coronavirus while waiting to check in to a flight at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)CHINA: A family wears masks and protective plastic covering after checking in to their flight at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)KENYA: Fashion designer David Avido, 24, poses for a portrait at his studio in Nairobi with a mask he made from remnants of cloth. (Gordwin Odhiambo / AFP via Getty Images)GAZA CITY: Shown are protective masks painted by Palestinian artists Samah Saed and Dorgam Krakeh for a project to raise awareness about the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mohammed Abed / AFP via Getty Images)ISRAEL: Lobna Safadi, shown inside her workshop in the Druze village of Majdal Shams, attaches a matching embroidered mask to a wedding dress she designed. (Jalaa Marey / AFP via Getty Images)UNITED STATES: Allison Eden and Gary Goldenstein wear disco-ball-inspired masks during the opening of the “Studio 54: Night Magic” exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. (Cindy Ord / Getty Images)