Opinion & Columnist

Covid-19: Face masks, other precautions save lives

Dr Linda Gail Bekker

Roselyne Sachiti Features, Health and Society Editor
• Face masks reduce the viral load when one comes into contact with someone who is breathing out SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.- Dr Linda-Gail Bekker
• When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.- WHO

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, non -pharmaceutical prevention measures like face masks have proven an effective measure of suppressing transmission.

Used as a part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives other precautions including physical distancing keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue have also proved effective.

Yet in Zimbabwe, most people have developed mask fatigue and no longer wear face masks in public spaces at a time Covid-19 cases have increased.

Zimbabwe had 33548 confirmed cases, 26583 recoveries and 1234 deaths as at February 1.

Advertisement

Moving around public spaces, shopping centres and bus pickup points, in high density areas, most people either have their face masks on their chins, hands while for others completely out of sight.

Responding to a question by The Herald, yesterday during a media roundtable ahead of the International Aids Society (IAS) COVID-19 Conference: Prevention, IAS past president, Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, said wearing cloth masks cuts the risk of contracting Covid-19.
She said face masks reduce the viral load when one comes into contact with someone who is breathing out SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

“My understanding of that is when we breathe out, we breathe out a plume of air. And we now know that SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted as small particles in the air. It’s airborne. That plume moves in front of us,” Dr Bekker who is an infectious disease specialist from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

She said it is important to wear masks as they interrupt plume.

“It doesn’t mean you don’t breathe, but it breaks the plume, and to a certain extent, protects you from breathing directly somebody else’s plume into your lungs.”

According to the World Health Organisation, below are the basics of how to wear a mask:

• Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
• Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth and chin.
• When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask, or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
• Don’t use masks with valves.

 

 

HERALD

Advertisement