EDITORIAL – Mask up!
A few months ago if we saw someone walking around with a mask, they
would have received a quizzical look and perhaps in the back of our
minds, we would be wondering if the person was up to some nefarious
activity. But today a mask is our new normal, and became so even
though the World Health Organisation has suggested that masks should
only be worn by those who actually have the virus, or are caring for
someone who has the virus.
In recent weeks, the suggestion has been that while we should not wear
the medical-grade face masks, persons should be encouraged to wear
cloth masks, especially in public settings, as a means of protecting
the wider population and slowing the spread of COVID-19. Most every
country in the world has since looked to encourage the use of cloth
masks, some taking it as a far as to legislate that persons must wear
them when in public.
Here in Barbados, while Government has not mandated the use of masks
and has to date only strongly advised their use, many companies
stipulate that in order for persons to enter their establishments they
must be wearing masks. Certainly, it is hoped that the wearing of
masks will be the ever present, graphic reminder of the dangers posed
by COVID-19 that we need, to prompt everyone to practise better
But, some suggest that the masks are only giving people a false sense
of security amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that they can have a
negative impact on the physical distancing habits that the health
authorities have been trying to encourage. There is a belief among
some people that if they are wearing masks, they are protected. But
even in wearing the masks, we must all still practise physical
distancing, wash or sanitise our hands regularly and disinfect the
hard surfaces around us to prevent the spread of the virus.
The fact is that many people who contract the virus have mild symptoms
or show no symptoms at all, and inadvertently they spread the virus to
unsuspecting persons and on and on the cycle goes. So the key to
stemming the spread is for everyone to act as though they have the
virus and do not want to spread it to anyone else by wearing masks. If
every single persons could adopt that attitude, we would certainly be
able to get a handle on the situation.
So face masks are to be encouraged, but it is equally important that
persons wear and remove the masks correctly, as failure to follow the
proper procedures can result in more harm than good – persons could in
fact be putting themselves at greater risk of getting sick. Just think
of the many people you encounter as you go out to work, or do your
shopping or banking, who have masks pulled on top of their heads,
below their chins or sometimes midway between their nose and mouth.
Not to mention that countless people are constantly touching the mask
while they are wearing it, wearing it for an extended period of time
and often rubbing their nose underneath it, which all defeat the
purpose of wearing the mask in the first place. We have also been told
that we must remove our mask the right way, never touching the front
of themask where contaminants could be. But how many people actually follow
that rule? We argue, notmany, and despite the numerous public service announcements showing
persons how to do it right, many people still grab the front of the
mask to pull it off.
Apart from proper mask usage, we think it vital that some system be
put in place to assess the workmanship of the masks, ensuring that
those making the product, whether established manufacturers or cottage
industries, do quality work and are using the correct materials. Given
the numerous complaints being logged via social media in recent weeks,
we must ensure quality is a priority to safeguard the health and
well-being of our people.