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Masks as a requirement to Enter Public Spaces
The Covid-19 virus, which originated in Wuhan China is now officially considered a pandemic globally (Cucinotta & Vanelli, 2020). The Covid-19 virus is highly transmissible as people can get infected when droplets from an infected person get into the eyes, mouth or nose of another. These droplets are caused when a person sneezes, coughs, sings or speaks. Transmission can also be indirect through touching contaminated surfaces and objects as the molecule of the virus is able to survive on surfaces (Shereen et al., 2020). Currently there is no cure or vaccine for the pandemic. Due to the nature of the spread of the virus, the WHO stipulated certain measures to curb the spread of the pandemic. Wearing masks and especially in public areas is one of the most controversial measures that has triggered rage and conflict across the globe. The paper will look at the pros and the cons of wearing face masks and why wearing masks should be required to enter public spaces.
Wearing face masks as a measure to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus is not for everyone. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children under the age of 2, people with breathing problems, unconscious people or incapacitated people who may require assistance to remove the masks should not wear them. Masks provide source control of the virus by creating a barrier for the droplets travelling into the air and infecting others. In public spaces where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing, the masks come in handy to reduce the spray of droplets across different people. Multilayer cloth masks have been found to be sufficient in the war against Covid-19. Though the filtration effectiveness of cloth masks may be lower than that of respirators and medical masks, health professionals have found that if cloth masks are designed and used properly to cover the nose and mouth, they are efficient to prevent the spread of infection in the community setting.
Pros of Wearing a Face Mask
The greatest advantage of wearing a mask is that it reduces the chances of spreading the virus through mouth or nose droplets. This is essentially important in areas where maintaining social distance is not possible like in public spaces or when using public transport. In large crowds, it is not possible to identify infected people and the masks are a shield against infection (Matuschek et al., 2020). Masks are especially important to prevent spread of the virus from asymptomatic individuals who may not be tested but still carry the virus. A person infected with the Covid-19 virus can pass it to another during the incubation period and before the onset of any symptoms. There is also no verified data on the amount of particles of the virus that an asymptomatic person can spread which makes it necessary to be safe by wearing a mask.
Cons of Wearing a Face Mask
There are concerns that wearing masks gives a false sense of security from being infected by the virus and therefore ignore other measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus (Lazzarino et al., 2020). By wearing a mask and especially in public places, there is likelihood to ignore the social distancing measures. Wearing of masks by people already infected by the Covid-19 virus increased their difficulty in breathing. This is also a difficulty experienced by people with already existing respiratory conditions. The mask traps a fraction of the carbon dioxide that is exhaled and it is therefore inhaled back with each breathing cycle. This causes increased deepness and the frequency of breathing which is a cause difficulty in breathing. For infected people, breathing the contaminated air pushes the viral load back to their lungs (Lazzarino et al., 2020). Carrying out intensive activities like running while wearing a mask also predisposes a person to difficult breathing as they are not getting enough oxygen and may end up suffocating with the mask.
Wearing face masks is creating communication barriers for people with hearing challenges or for the deaf who rely on lipreading for communication. For such instances, clear masks are encouraged for people with constant contact with people with hearing challenges or adopting written communication. In line with communication, wearing a mask generally compromises the quality and volume of speech. In an effort to communicate better, people may unconsciously move closer which predisposes them to getting infected by the Covid-19 virus (Lazzarino et al., 2020). By wearing a mask, the exhaled air goes into the eyes. This may create the need to touch the eyes and especially for people who wear spectacles. Toughing the eyes with contaminated hands will lead to infection spread (Lazzarino et al., 2020).
Using a mask for long hours may make it dump from the water vapor from the mouth when exhaling. A humid habitat allows the Covid-19 virus to continue being active. During inhaling, an individual will re-inhale the virus back and this reduces their immunity to fight the disease by inhaling back the viral load. Wearing masks can create certain hazards for people operating machinery. This is because sometimes the straps of the mask may get caught in the machinery causing accidents. In such cases, it is important for people operating machinery to have appropriate masks for their setting. It is also advised that the masks can be used when such people are in contact with others during meetings, shift meetings or group travel but when using machinery where social distancing is possible, then they can remove the masks.
The cons of wearing masks seem to be numerous than the pros but these are issues that require adaptability rather than throwing away the mask in totality. Wearing masks has been found to be one of the most effective measures in preventing infection from the virus (Spitzer, 2020). Wearing of the mask in public spaces is a social responsibility for everyone not only prevent from being infected but also preventing infecting the community incase an individual is an asymptomatic patient. People are in public places for shorter durations than they are within their homes due to the lockdowns and movement restrictions and it is therefore possible to preserver the inconvenience of the mask for the time spent in public spaces and when using public transport. The use of the mask should be done in the right way for it to be effective. It is advices to make sure that the mask covers the nose and mouth and that it has no gaps around the face where droplets would have access into the nose and mouth and therefore cause infections.
Chughtai, A., Seale, H., & Macintyre, C. (2020). Effectiveness of Cloth Masks for Protection Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2. Retrieved 17 September 2020, from https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-0948_article.
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Retrieved 17 September 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html.
Cucinotta, D., & Vanelli, M. (2020). WHO Declares COVID-19 a Pandemic. Acta Biomed, 91(1), 157-160. Retrieved 17 September 2020. https://europepmc.org/article/med/32191675
Lazzarino, A., Steptoe, A., Hamer, M., & Michie, S. (2020). Covid-19: Important potential side effects of wearing face masks that we should bear in mind. BMJ, m2003. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2003
Matuschek, C., Moll, F., Fangerau, H., Fischer, J., Zänker, K., & van Griensven, M. et al. (2020). Face masks: benefits and risks during the COVID-19 crisis. European Journal Of Medical Research, 25(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40001-020-00430-5
Shereen, M., Khan, S., Kazmi, A., Bashir, N., & Siddique, R. (2020). COVID-19 infection: Origin, transmission, and characteristics of human coronaviruses. Journal Of Advanced Research, 24, 91-98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jare.2020.03.005
Spitzer, M. (2020). Masked education? The benefits and burdens of wearing face masks in schools during the current Corona pandemic. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 20, 100138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tine.2020.100138