Do’s and don’ts of wearing a mask
When you wear a mask, you are making an effort to protect the health of others in your community and you are also keeping yourself and the people you love safe from COVID-19. Wearing a mask shows that you care, not only for yourself but also for your family and community. Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people. Be used to it as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives.
A mask is only effective if it is worn correctly. Choose a mask that allows you to breathe easily. Do not touch the mouth covering a portion of the mask, if you have to hold it, hold the ear loops. One should clean their hands before putting the mask on, as well as before and after taking it off. Make sure it covers your nose, mouth and chin.
Wear a fabric mask unless you are in a particular risk group. This is especially important when you cannot stay physically distanced, particularly in crowded and poorly ventilated indoor settings. Wear surgical masks if you: are over 60 and have underlying medical conditions; are feeling unwell and looking after an ill family member.
Do not put a mask on a child less than two years, or who is incapacitated, unable to open it without help. Never put a mask around your neck or forehead.
Do not reuse a single-use mask, it could be dangerous. When a mask is wet, make sure to change it, to be on the safe side. A wet mask becomes porous and spoils the intention.
For health workers, medical masks are essential personal protective equipment when engaging with patients with suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19. Respirator masks (such as FFP2, N95) should be used in settings where procedures generating aerosols are performed and must be fitted to ensure the right size is worn.
Coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others.
Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. When the virus is on the surface of any object, it can live there for some time. If you unknowingly touch the virus, you are still safe, since your face is covered by a saviour mask. No contact no entry can break the chain of transmission.
You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. The main function of wearing a mask is to protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms. It is especially important to wear a mask when you are unable to stay at least six feet apart from others since COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another that is within about six feet.
Above all, the law is to protect people from impending danger. We all should be aware of the fact, by respecting the law we are supporting a humanitarian cause, who knows if we show disrespect to nature it might choose you for revenge.
The writer is a gerontologist and a public health specialist.