Wearing a face mask in public helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 is the oft-repeated advice from the health experts. But if not worn properly and correctly — covering both your nose and mouth — it will defeat the very purpose of its use.
While a mask is intended to protect the wearer from novel coronavirus to some degree, their primary purpose, according to experts, is to limit the amount of infectious droplets coming out of the wearer’s respiratory tract — both the mouth and nose.
Despite the fact that we have been in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly 10 months now and social distancing and wearing face masks have become the new norm in our daily lives, there is one disturbing trend that has infuriated many healthcare professionals across the globe, and the Sultanate is no exception.
While highlighting the very need to wear masks and maintaining personal hygiene as part of combating the spread of the pandemic, Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Saeedi, Minister of Health, lamented at the common sight of people wearing the masks haphazardly by not covering the nose as well as the mouth.
“I have seen that many people wearing the masks pulled down so it only covers their mouth, leaving their nose exposed. Do not forget that if you sneeze or cough, somebody around you can catch the virus and vice versa”, he said during the weekend media briefing.
But this can defeat the key purpose of wearing a mask, he said.
While health experts show evidence that the primary means of contracting the novel coronavirus is inhaling aerosol droplets, this does not mean simply covering just the mouth is effective. But in the public places, whether in offices or stores, majority of the employees and people do wear the masks just to escape from being fined.
According to World Health Organisation, masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19.
According to a report in Nature Medicine, the expression of these viral entry factors are high in the nose.
“Wearing a mask helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by preventing the transmission of droplets and aerosols that are produced when a person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes”, a report in the publication says.
The focus on the nose comes as many scientists study means of diagnosing COVID-19 microbe, with one of the most commonly observed symptoms being a loss or distortion of the sense of smell. Hence nose, like all areas that could be potential means of infection, should be covered and secured, and compared the virus entering the cells to home invasion.
Lack of hygiene in everyday life was another concern raised by Dr Al Saeedi.
Referring to the results of a Twitter survey, which he termed as shocking, he said that only 30 per cent people are adhering to the simple procedures in maintaining hygiene.
“Our religion and culture caution us about the need for hygiene which is essential in our homes and everyday life. We have to follow them”, he said.
Promoting good hand hygiene is another powerful tool that must be continued to leverage to reduce the spread of COVID-19.