On Friday, the Health Ministry reported that Guyana had recorded 107 new COVID-19 cases and another related death. Despite the upward trend in infections, persons are still not taking the health guidelines issued by the authorities seriously. In some cases, persons just go about their daily routines as if they are not bothered at all.
We had supported, and continue to support, the move by the Government to make it mandatory for persons to wear masks while out in public, which was done since August 2020. Authorities had made it clear that it is not the Government’s intention to have persons locked up or fined for not wearing a mask while out in public.
Of note, too, is that even in cases where persons choose to wear a mask, they do not do so properly. Face masks 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/sanitising and social distancing, is the key measure to halting the severe impact of COVID-19. With COVID-19 in Guyana, 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, once the health guidelines to contain the spread of the virus are not taken seriously by citizens, the infection rates would continue to climb, and the country would take even longer before it could be fully reopened. This, we know, would have severe economic and social impacts on the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from travelling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. The 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 show masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” the CDC explains.
The CDC notes that COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about six 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.
The CDC has recommended that all persons, two 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 should wear a mask in public settings, and practise social distancing.
However, while masks are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the 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.
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.