Masks for the public is purposely for protection and not to serve as a source of infection or elegance. After a week of observation on how people go around with their masks I can’t keep quite anymore and I feel to disabuse the minds of the Gambians.
Scientifically, the use of masks had been proven to offer a large amount of protection when in tango with hand hygiene, physical distance et al. This has prompted many countries to come up with a regulation to protect the public, but what I have gathered and saw within a week is too much and it can’t fit into one piece. The following are the things that every mask wearer most come to know about and come to terms with:
1. Masks is meant for both the nose and mouth, not covering the mouth and exposing the nose, this will not give you any form of protection. Better to cover both or leave it expose which can be detrimental.
2. Single use Surgical masks are not to be carried for the next day, imagine I have met with a Man who was wearing a Surgical masks and I asked him sorry can I please talked to you and he did allow me and I told him you seems to be using this more than a day and he said yes because this is the only thing I get with me. But I told him although the degree of filtration may differ but you should go for cloth masks that you can be able to use time without numbers after washing it. But with this you may even welcome disease to yourself.
3. Avoid touching your masks with contaminated hands, your hands may be full of germs without you noticing so constantly touching your nose masks here and there will not do good. Just leave it untouched and you will be safe.
4. Mask is not for the chin, yes not for the chin many people do this especially most of the cloth mask wearers they like to rest their masks around the chin and some complaint about the breathability but down the chin sweats easily and if you put your mask around that region you are causing more damage to yourself for the fact that all the dirts will be resting on your mask and you again pull that up and start inhaling those foreign particles which may be a potential source for infection.
5. Wash your clothes masks with soap anf cleqn water anytime you are home when you won’t be going out anytime before the masks dries and ensure that before reuse, iron it so that you can have maximum protection because if you washed your masks thoroughly and supplement it with ironing, it looks sterile. Do not add any dye to your cloth masks just this two will be of great help.
6. Avoid testing masks, this is dangerous and to the seller please orient your costumers that any mask you picked from the lot should not be returned. Some people are with the habit of testing the cloth masks whether it will be tight fitting on them and when it’s not they tend to returned it on the seller’s table, with this local transmission going on nobody knows who has the virus and this can serve as an infection center for others. What I will suggest is if you are dealer in Masks and you want to satisfy costumers demand, make sure you have a special bag where you going to put the test mask, so that it won’t be mixed with the others and once you are home wash and iron them before bringing them back to the market.
If this things are adhered to, together with other precautionary measures, we can defeat the outbreak with concerted efforts by having unity in our hearts and take COVID-19 as our only enemy for now. Let’s remember if you are safe and your neighbor is not safe then you are still in danger. We must help one another and correct each other in complimenting the effort of the Government in the fight against COVID-19. True patriotism is not lip service, it’s walking the talk. What most be conceal in your heart must be express in your actions.
Finally, to our frontliners who are at the treatment centers, I want to tell you that you are never alone and our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Authored: Saja Jarjusey.
Profession: Public Health Officer.