The Centre has issued an advisory encouraging citizens to cover their faces with homemade masks while stepping out to protect themselves amid the escalating coronavirus crisis in the country. The health ministry on Saturday said that the number of coronavirus cases rose to 2,902, with 68 deaths. Of these, 2,650 Covid-19 cases are still active.

In a detailed advisory, the home ministry said wearing of masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas across India.

“Covid-19 virus spreads easily from person to person contact. Virus carrying droplets dry fast enough to form droplet nuclei and remain airborne eventually landing on different surfaces,” the advisory said. “Reducing the chances of inhaling the virus by wearing a protective mask that is cleaned thoroughly using a combination of approaches that use heat, ultraviolet light, water, soap and alcohol, will be vital to stopping its spread.”

The government said that people who do not suffer from underlying medical conditions or have breathing difficulties are advised to use handmade face covers, particularly before going out. “This will help in protecting the community at large,” the ministry said.

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It also published a step-by-step guide to make your own mask out of a piece of clean cloth available at home. These handmade masks, however, are not meant for health workers or those working with or in contact with Covid-19 patients or those who are patients themselves as they are required to wear specified protective gear, the Health Ministry said.

The government added that these masks do not provide complete protection from the coronavirus. “Homemade reusable masks only reduce the chances of inhaling droplets still in the air from infected person,” it said. “They do not give full protection.”

“There must not be a sharing of face covers and a face cover must be used by only one individual. So, in a family of several members, each member should have a separate face cover,” the advisory added.

The Centre’s recommendation to wear face masks comes a day after the United States also advised its citizens to cover their faces with mask when stepping outdoors based on medical guidance. The guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the government’s public health advisory agency, came as United States registered 1,480 deaths – the worst single-day toll in the world since the pandemic began – in 24 hours. The toll in the US in now 7,406, with at least 270,473 confirmed cases.