It shouldn’t have come to this, but here we are. Masks are slowly becoming the kitsch of our generation. face masks
After the first case in Kenya was identified, on March 12, the government put in place sweeping measures to slow the spread of COVID-19…and chief among those measures is wearing a face mask.
And now, face masks have become the norm rather than the exception. Previously, one would stand out when wearing a face mask in public. Now it’s the other way round.
A country known for its aggressive population and loudmouths now must speak up so as to be heard by a neighbour, a cashier, the bus conductor, gesturing to the brink of pantomime to be understood.
We have reached that awkward point in time when it is rare, even suspicious to go to the supermarket without seeing people wearing surgical-style face masks.
From Bosnia (March 29th) to Austria (April 6th), from Morocco (April 7th) to Turkey (April 7th), from Jamaica (April 21st) to Germany (April 22nd), and now Kenya these are just some of the growing liturgy of countries that have made wearing face masks in public compulsory – with dissidents facing stringent fines and punishments.
Are face masks becoming the new condoms?
The mask-like a vagabond lurking in the dark has stealthily crept into our lives – taking over our schools, supermarkets jobs, handshakes, and now, half of our very own faces.
It was as if a curtain had fallen – on our very own faces – after a grand performance. And now, we express ourselves through our eyes, with non-mask-wearing faces contending with dagger looks and condescending eye-rolls, one of the few facial expressions still in play nowadays.
Giving Masks The Limelight
And by Jove, as if on cue, a huge market opened up: the designer face mask. Corona-related demand has even enabled some fashion labels to reopen their factories, providing desperately needed supplies and, for some, self-expression amid chaos. Could it be that mask will mimic their distant cousins, condoms – the ever-present, every-so-often trendy and supported by overwhelming government policy?
There have been a number of conflicting reports on whether face masks can prevent transmission of coronavirus. The WHO recommends that provided you are healthy, you do not need to wear a mask.
“Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with an alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and running water,” WHO said.
And just like that masks have become a symbol of social responsibility. And for good reason too:
An estimated 25 per cent of people with coronavirus feel perfectly fine and don’t know they are infected and could be contagious. And guess what? You could very well be one of them! That’s why you should wear a mask to protect other people from your stealth germs.
The bottom line is that when you practice social distancing, wash your hands and wear a mask during those times when you must leave the house, you are lowering your risk for getting sick.
Because just like condoms, another concern is that wearing a mask may breed complacency by giving a false sense of security, leading to people disregarding other measures that have strong evidence for, like handwashing and social distancing.
Since, according to recent reports, now, it is becoming clear that much, if not most, of the spread of the virus, is by infected people who don’t get sick. In other words, asymptomatic carriers. Does that sound familiar?
It is time to normalise face masks, fast.
And just like condoms, for face masks to work as a barrier method, they do need to be worn consistently and correctly to prevent transmission of this virus.
For one, it is of no use not covering your nose. Or leaving your mouth open.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said desire there being no evidence of self-protection, covering the mouth and nose can trap infectious droplets that are expelled when the wearer is speaking, coughing or sneezing. That essentially means that wearing a face mask is designed to protect others from you, rather than you from others.
There are three general categories of face mask:
Cloth face mask: Non-medical cloth masks or face coverings will not prevent you from breathing in respiratory droplets that carry a virus, like COVID-19.
Surgical masks: Disposable medical device or barrier covering the nose, mouth and chin, used predominantly by healthcare workers in preventing the spread of infection. These masks offer protection to the wearer by preventing facial contact with large respiratory droplets and splashes
Respirator or filtering facepiece (FFP): Mainly used by healthcare workers to protect the wearer, especially during high-risk procedures. These are designed to protect the wearer from inhaling small and large particle droplets by acting as a barrier that limits virus transmission. Their clinical use is recommended for certain high-risk procedures only.
And now to the canonical commandments of masks:
MASKS DO’s & DON’Ts:
· DON’T: Wear the mask below your nose.
· DON’T: Leave your chin exposed.
· DON’T: Wear your mask loosely with gaps on the sides.
· DON’T: Wear your mask so it covers just the tip of your nose.
· DON’T: Push your mask under your chin to rest on your neck.
· DON’T: Touch the front of the mask when you take it off.
· DON’T: Re-use a mask when it becomes damp.
So are face mask becoming the new condoms? We can’t prove that they aren’t so we are going with: WHY NOT!
Oh, one more thing:
Don’t forget to brush your teeth. Halitosis can be lethal.
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