Keeping our health

Keeping our health

With Metro Manila and some areas of the country now under General Community Quarantine, it is rather disheartening to see thousands of people unnecessarily going out once more in droves as in pre-COVID-19 season — and, sadly, some conveniently forgetting to wear the required face masks and face shields.

These are part of the protocols imposed by health authorities and the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infections Diseases, both monitoring the bulletin board on infections, deaths and recoveries which are rising since March this year.

Some pontificate the probability of transmission is one to nil, ignoring the fact that even hospital and medical center staff wear face masks to prevent the spread of virus that has caused the pandemic, which has killed globally at least 832,000 and infected 24.5 million — and the numbers continue to rise daily.

Experts have repeatedly said wearing a face mask will help prevent the spread of infection and prevent the individual from contracting any airborne infectious germs. When someone coughs, talks, sneezes they could release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Face masks are part of an infection control strategy to eliminate cross-contamination.

But how should your face mask be worn? Virologists say:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching the face mask.
  • Remove mask from the dispenser or box and make sure the masks do not have any holes or tears.
  • Make sure you determine which side is the top and which is the front of the mask, so you can properly wear the mask.
  • Face masks with ear loops: hold by the ear loops and put the loops around each ear.
  • Face masks with ties: bring mask to your nose and place the ties over your head to secure with a tie.
  • Face masks with bands: hold mask to your nose and pull the top strap over the crown of your head and pull the bottom strap over your head so its at the nape of your neck.
  • Pull the mask over your mouth and chin; it provides a cooler, more comfortable breathing chamber without obstruction of downward vision.

In an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people wear face masks or cloth face coverings. The IATF has included face shields in addition to face masks.

The issue of wearing face coverings in public comes up frequently these days. A general sentiment is, “If I am not personally at high risk for COVID-19, why should I wear a mask?” Reason perhaps why many people in public places are not covering their nose and mouth.

The CDC has recommended “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain — for instance, grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

The reason for this is that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread even before symptoms appear, by such things as coughing, sneezing, or even speaking at close range.

Virologists and experts say face shields are beneficial if someone cannot wear a mask. If someone coughs 18 inches from you while you are wearing a face shield, the immediate viral exposure is reduced by 96 percent. If the person remains coughing and talking with you for 30 minutes, then the face shield blocks 68 percent of the small air particles.

Prolonged exposure reduces the amount of protection of the shield, and, experts still saying, if someone combines the mask with a face shield, both can raise added protection.

Regardless of the statistics supporting face shields as a form of protection, experts remain faithful to the face masks as the number one form of protection, with a face mask fully able to cover a person’s nose and mouth and fits securely on the face.

Experts have said the transmission probability from a COVID-19 carrier without mask to a healthy person without mask is high; a COVID-19 carrier wearing mask to a healthy person with no mask is low, and the transmission probability from a COVID-19 carrier wearing mask to a healthy person wearing a mask is lowest.

In areas, like California, where a spike is seen in COVID-19 cases, wearing a face covering is now a requirement in many public settings.

Occupational medicine experts say COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets, which are “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, laughs, shouts or sings, and they can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or can possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

“Face coverings, when worn correctly, may reduce the release of infectious particles, thus reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

Let us be wealthy with our health than something else.

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