M ZAHIDUL HAQUE
AMONG the various strategies so far invented and recommended to beat corona– wearing of a face mask is the number one! Masks help in blocking particle droplets, splashes and other tiny particles containing germ to enter the body through mouth and nose. If we cover our face by a mask, the risk for transmission of coronavirus decreases to a greater extent. Of course, wearing a face mask is not much comfortable to many people. Mask often causes breathing problem, itching, etc. Patients with respiratory disorder like Asthma plus pulmonary heart disease are suggested not to wear mask continuously.
Presently a number of face masks are available but the commonly used ones include ordinary cloth masks, surgical and N95 masks. N95 (N95 respirator) is meant only for healthcare and frontline health workers while cloth and surgical masks are usually worn by the general public and attendants of the patients.
Meanwhile, the users of masks need to maintain the following guidelines:-
–N95 mask is not for routine use. So, it should only be used by frontline health workers. Those who wear N95 should strictly follow the guidelines for their use.
–Cloth and surgical masks should be worn properly. In case of a surgical or three-layer mask, the soft side is the inner side while the rough side the outer side.
Usually, the lightly coloured side is the outer side. After wearing the mask, the clip should be adjusted properly on the nose. Touching the front surface of the mask should be avoided because it might get contaminated by germs.
–Cloth and surgical masks should be removed from the strings/loops without touching the front surface.
–Normally all masks are disposable, meant for a single-use. But on economical consideration, cloth and surgical masks may be re-used after proper cleaning and drying. Bleach or harsh chemicals should not be used to wash cloth masks because it will damage the fibre. Some light laundry detergent may work well.
Cloth masks should be washed properly and air or iron dried.
–It is not a good practice to put the mask under chin because it might spread germs. Proper disposal of used masks is very much essential because improper and unsafe disposal of masks may cause transmission of COVID-19. A separate container should be used to disposing of used masks, hand gloves and PPEs.
The City Corporations in Dhaka has recently announced that they would supply special bags to dispose of used masks and other medical wastes and after 7 July they would not collect normal garbage containing used masks, etc. But until today, the decision has yet to see implementation.
How long we are to live with face masks is uncertain! Many experts believe that we may have to wear masks for the next several years, even after immunization by an effective vaccine!
So, mask matters; we have to get used to wearing masks together with other corona prevention measures including hand washing, maintenance of social distances, etc. This is indispensable for our protection as well as for the protection of our fellow human beings against Corona COVID-19!
(The author is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Information System, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka. E-mail: email@example.com)
M ZAHIDUL HAQUE