India is amongst the worst affected countries in the world due to COVID-19 with more than 3.2 million people already in clutches of the pandemic. The surge in COVID-19 is mainly because people are not able to break the chain of contamination. Though people across the globe are taking preventive measures to impede transmission of the pandemic rapidly by maintaining physical distance, wearing face masks and PPEs, washing hands and using sanitizers etc. but in India there is lack of seriousness by the general public to combat the pandemic in public areas.
It is a known fact that the primary route of transmission of COVID-19 is through coming in contact with the respiratory droplets of the infected person. Due to unrecognized importance of airborne transmission of the pandemic there is failure in containing the propagation of COVID-19 throughout world. The Pandemic has been declared as airborne by the WHO as the transmission occurs via respiratory aerosols. In many cases, it is transmissible from presymptomatic and asymptomatic individuals as well. So, there is a dire need to limit contacts of infected individuals either by appropriate quarantine or by wearing masks so that a temporary barrier is created to stop the transmission. This is an effective source control preventive measure which helps reduce the contamination and death toll as it prevents larger expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther.
In conjunction with other preventive measures like physical distancing and existing hygiene, public mask wearing is the most effective factors to prevent the spread of this pandemic when the compliance is high. Some relief in lockdown might have eased our movement outside homes, it has also lead the virus to grapple us like never before as many people move out of their homes without wearing a face mask. These people risk their lives and others with whom they come in contact.
Studies, throughout the world show that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility of infected droplets from one person to another. We need to learn from countries like China, Singapore and US where they have been able to contain the spread of virus as people wear masks in public. Many important steps have also been taken by the administration of Jammu and Kashmir to combat the wide spread of the virus, to deal with carelessness and non-serious attitude of people. In an order on 20th July 2020, the government has levied a fine of Rs 500 for not wearing a face mask in the public area that can prevent inter-human transmission.
There are different types of masks that are used for different purposes to prevent the transmission. Reusable double layered cloth mask is a good option for general public because other disposable masks and PPE waste has added tons of garbage since the COVID situation. Surgical and N-95 masks are worn by the medical workers as they are at high risk of contamination. Many people who wear masks do not wear it properly. When we wear a face mask, it prevents us from touching our face and lessens the chances of contamination. In light of that, WHO has made it mandatory for everyone to wear mask when moving outside home. The guidelines issued by WHO regarding use of face mask are as follows:
* Clean your hands before touching the mask.
* Inspect the mask for damage or if dirty.
* Adjust the mask to your face without leaving gaps on the sides.
* Cover your nose, mouth and chin.
* Avoid touching the mask.
* Remove the mask by the straps behind the ears or head.
* Put the mask away from your face.
* Store the mask in a clean plastic, resealable bag if it is not dirty or wet and you plan to re-use it.
* Remove the mask by the straps when taking it out of the bag.
* Wash the mask in soap or detergent preferably with hot water, at least once a day.
* Clean your hands after removing the mask.
* Do not use a mask that looks damaged.
* Do not wear loose mask.
* Do not wear the mask under the nose.
* Do not remove the mask where there people within one metre.
* Do not wear a mask that is difficult to breathe through.
* Do not wear a dirty or wet mask.
* Do not share your mask with others.
WHO recommends everyone to wear mask while out in public to prevent the spread of pandemic.
Therefore, to reduce community transmission of the pandemic, 100% of people need to wear mask properly. A study from Cambridge and Greenwich Universities found mass-adoption of face masks could prevent a second wave of the disease. Wearing a mask should be made absolutely essential. Wearing a face mask in public is inexpensive practice to greatly reduce the chances of anyone coming in contact with the corona virus. Wearing a mask is about protecting yourself and caring for others your family, your community. If we adopt this new normal of three W’s i.e., wearing a mask, washing your hands and watching your distance, it will be the best way we can contribute our bit in this fight against COVID-19.