The rise in Covid cases has once again highlighted the need and importance of wearing face masks, especially in public places. Several governments including Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, have asked their citizens to adhere to the fresh mask mandate. According to a PTI report, Delhi government has made wearing of masks mandatory in public places and imposed a fine of Rs 500 on violators.
The Uttar Pradesh government announced a mask mandate in the districts of Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, and the capital city of Lucknow.
Notably, earlier this month, in lieu of the improving situation in the country, some relaxations were put in place, which led to many people ditching the face masks. They were not to be fined either. However, governments suggested vulnerable people keep wearing masks, although they did not make it compulsory.
Why is it essential to wear masks?
Masks and face coverings can prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading to others and offer protection to the wearer as well, said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, founder and director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.
“In multiple studies, face coverings have been demonstrated to contain droplets ejected from the wearer, which are responsible for the majority of virus transmissions. Many patients infected with Covid-19 are completely unaware that they are infected. It’s estimated that 40 per cent of people infected with covid are asymptomatic, but can spread the virus to others. Thus, universal mask use can drastically limit virus transmission in the society,” Dr Bajaj told indianexpress.com.
What should be kept in mind?
We should also observe Covid-appropriate behaviour at all times to prevent new infection and its dissemination. “Precaution is prevention. Be vigilant, wear a mask, follow all the Covid protocols,” Dr Bajaj stressed.
Is mask wearing 24×7 compulsory?
Dr Sonam Solanki, consultant pulmonologist, Masina Hoapital said that we need not wear masks 24*7 like before but must wear when:
*in a crowded public space such as flights, trains, or any public transport,
*meeting a big crowd of unknown people with a travel history.
*in a hospital setting with symptomatic or asymptomatic infections.
Dr Bipin Jibhkate, consultant, critical care medicine, and ICU director Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road said that one can be “mask-free only around family members or close friends who are fully vaccinated and appear to be healthy”.
What kind of masks to wear?
Use a mask that covers the mouth, nose, and chin properly without restricting breathing, said Dr Vikrant Shah, consulting physician, intensivist and infection disease specialist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital Chembur. “You can also take the help of an expert to choose what suits you the best. Clean your hands before wearing the mask and after removing it. Then, dispose of it properly,” added Dr Shah.
How about children?
Not only adults but even children should be encouraged to wear masks, said Dr Jibhkate.
*Inside your home, if possible, avoid close contact with sick people by maintaining a six-feet distance. If you’re caring for someone sick, make sure to wear a well-fitting mask and take other precautions to keep yourself safe.
*Indoors in a public setting: Stay at least six feet away from other people if you are not up to date on Covid-19 vaccines, especially if you are at a higher risk of becoming severely sick from Covid.
*Remember that Covid is here to stay. You still have to avoid crowded places too, said Dr Jibhkate.