The health ministry on Monday warned against the “inappropriate use of N95 masks, especially those that contain respiratory valves”. Director General of Health Services Rajiv Garg encouraged people to use homemade face masks.

“It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask,” Garg said in a letter to all states and Union Territories. “In view of the above, I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N95 masks.”

Wearing a mask in public places is now mandatory in India.

In April, the Centre had issued an advisory on the use of homemade protective cover for face and mouth. The advisory stressed such face covers must be washed and cleaned each day. 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 had said.

India’s total case count has crossed 11.55 lakh as of Tuesday and the toll is over 28,000. While more than 7 lakh people have recovered, India’s over over 4 lakh active cases.

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