For some time now, in spite of COVID-19 cases going up daily, persons have still not been taking seriously the health guidelines issued by the authorities. In some cases, persons just go about their daily routine as if they are not bothered at all.
Now that the National COVID-19 Measures, as were gazetted, cater for a further ease of the curfew measures taking effect from November 1 to 30, we support the move as was previously announced, making it mandatory for persons to wear masks while out in the public. The Health Minister has made it clear that it is not Government’s intention to have persons locked up or fined for not wearing a mask while out in public. He said that all efforts are being made to educate persons about the need to safeguard themselves and their families from being infected, and to have them voluntarily comply with the guidelines.
Of note, too, is that even in cases where persons choose to wear a mask, they do not do so properly. A face mask should cover the nose, mouth and chin. When not in use, the mask should be safely stowed away, or discarded, and not be placed on any other part of the face or neck.
Mandatory mask-wearing, along with the other preventative measures: handwashing or sanitising, and social distancing, are the key measures to halt the severe impact of COVID-19. With the rise in COVID-19 cases, the Government, along with the various health partners, has wasted no time in stepping up the national response to contain the spread of the virus. However, citizens also have a role to play, and they must take that role seriously, or else the country would not be able to win the battle to control the virus.
The fact is that once the health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus are not taken seriously by citizens, the infection rate would continue to climb, and it would take an even longer time for the country to be fully reopened. This, we know, would have severe economic and social impacts on the country.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling in the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. CDC explains that this is called source control.
“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” CDC explains.
CDC notes that COVID-19 is spread mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), so the use of masks is particularly important in settings where people are close to each other, or where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
CDC has recommended that all persons 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
It must be noted, too, that COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. For this reason, it is important that everyone wears a mask in public settings and practise social distancing.
However, while masks are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recognises there are specific instances when wearing a mask may not be feasible. In those instances, adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible.
As was previously said by this publication, everyone wants the virus to be contained, so that they can get on with their daily lives, but this would not be possible if citizens are complacent, or continue to ignore the health guidelines. The heavy hand of the law must come down on those who are not wearing a mask while in public space.