Friday | 03 April | 2020
By Reon Janse van Rensburg
Since the national lockdown, there has been a lot of uncertainty among people about whether they should wear masks or not. Articles on social media that spread like wildfire has many different opinions about this issue. However, this leaves one wondering who you can believe and who not.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is very clear on the matter and once again emphasised their point of view earlier this week.
During a live broadcast on Monday 30 March, the WHO hosted a briefing to keep the public informed of news of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Officials of the WHO once again recommended healthy people not to wear masks, but only those who are infected and those who come into close contact with infected persons.
However, the problem is that the message differs between countries. In America the public was requested to stop buying masks. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, they declared masks compulsory, and in Japan and South Korea it was handed out to the public.
According to the WHO masks are only effective when used in combination with regular handwash routines where soap and water or alcohol are used. Masks should also be used correctly and be disposed of in the correct manner.
Officials of the WHO was careful to say that the organisation criticises those countries who advise their citizens to wear masks, but they emphasised that masks are often used wrong and because of that it does not offer the necessary protection.
According to experts, wearing of a mask can offer a false sense of security and may lead to some people becoming less alert to more important hygienic measures such as disinfecting hands with soap and water or with alcohol.
What also happens easily is that one removes a mask so that it does not cover their nose and also touch the outside of a mask.
Covid-19 is mainly spread through respiratory droplets that are released when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes. Through close personal contact such as touching or greeting by hand, someone else can pick up the virus. To touch a surface on which the virus is and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands can also cause you to get the virus.
According to Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO’s emergency programme, there is a global shortage on PPE and therefore it is extremely crucial that masks are handed to the most essential persons. According to him the biggest risk currently lies with the healthcare workers that are on the frontline every day. However, Ryan believes that this is not the biggest reason why the wearing of masks is not to be recommended, but that the thought of healthcare workers not having protective gear, such as masks, is a disgraceful one.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.