Flu pandemic: Surgical masks

People with flu especially should wear a mask to reduce the risk of transmitting germs to those around them. Surgical masks only make sense in conjunction with other hygiene measures and rules of behaviour. 

Wenn empfohlen, Verwendung von Hygienemasken


The following people are recommended to wear a mask:

  • People with flu at home who can’t keep at least one metre away from other people
  • People with flu who have to leave their home (for example to go to the doctor or hospital)
  • People who can’t keep at least one metre away from a sick person at home, regardless of whether the sick person is wearing a mask

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recommends that each member of the public have a personal supply of 50 masks.

How to use a surgical mask

  • Carefully cover your mouth and nose with the mask and fasten it properly, eliminating any gaps between your face and the mask as far as possible.
  • Avoid touching the mask while you’re wearing it. Once you’ve touched a used mask, for example when taking it off, wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with a hand disinfectant.
  • As soon as your mask gets damp (every two hours or so) replace it with a new clean, dry one.
  • Never re-use surgical masks.
  • Never keep them after use; dispose of them immediately after use.
  • A surgical mask on its own won’t provide complete protection. It should always be used in conjunction with other hygienic measures to reduced the risk of transmitting the flu.

Further information

Surgical masks, also known as procedural or OP masks, are available as Type II or Type IIR and other designations. They’re primarily designed to protect those around the person wearing them rather than the person themselves.


Swiss Influenza Pandemic Plan PDF

Swiss Influenza Pandemic Plan 2018

Strategies and measures to prepare for an influenza pandemic in Switzerland

Last modification 22.04.2020

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Prevention and Healthcare Provision Directorate
Communicable Diseases Division
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 87 06

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