Mask up to combat covid-19

Muscat: The authorities have been conveying to the public the importance of taking measures to bring break the COVID-19 curve as the recovery rate has come down to 87.3 per cent as of Tuesday. At this point it has been clear that it is self discipline which is most effective in addition to night lockdowns which are in force since last week from 8:00 pm to 5 am.

Wearing a mask is not just for self protection, but also for the protection of others. It has currently become part of the etiquette.
Unicef has an awareness campaign on the importance of wearing a mask called #MaskUp as there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Middle East and North Africa. The campaign features children and influencers to engage the public to wear masks and highlight how to properly use them and dispose masks safely.

The campaign is even more important now as the number of COVID-19 cases in the region has now touched 2.7 million.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Juliette Touma, Regional Chief of Communications, Unicef Middle East and North Africa, Regional Office, said: “This is a campaign we have launched in the middle of the August across the Middle East and North Africa, and the purpose is to encourage people to wear mask and wear it the right way. Also when they dispose masks, dispose it, let them dispose it safely.”
The #MaskUp campaign touches upon three areas. The campaign is interactive in the sense as they did not want top down approach but rather be among the communities.

“We wanted the message to be liked and wanted it to reach as many people as possible. It is not just about reaching out to millions, which we are, but it is also about changing the social behaviour. We aspire to take this campaign to people and to abide by wearing the mask the right way, encouraging others to wear it and also to dispose them off safely,” said Touma.

“We have celebrities and influencers around the region who have come forward to support this campaign. We have Lebanese singer who appears every three days with important message on masks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Athletes, artists, journalists and musicians have given their voice for this campaign. The WHO has joined hands with us and has adopted the Mask Up campaign so we can cooperate together. This morning, we have been joined by Tik Tok in MENA who have come to help us with the promotion of this campaign. We will have sessions with young people to talk about masks and the importance of wearing masks,” explained Touma.

People have been debating about the types of masks (disposable, medical or fabric). This is what she has to say, “We are advocating masks – whether it is medical, or disposable or fabric mask, we are advocating people to wear the mask not only to protect people around you, but your self. So that is very important.”

“What we are encouraging in the maskup campaign is not just to wear a mask but also to dispose it the right way. Dispose it in a closed bin and if it is a reusable mask then wash it as often as possible.”

According to Touma the message is simple, “Encourage others to mask up and do not shy away from telling people if they are not wearing a mask because it is a responsibility that all of us have, and the situation is very critical in the region. We have 2.7 million people with COVID-19 in the region. Sadly the numbers are going up instead of going down. It is impacting every one. If we want to continue with our lives then we must take all precautions and mask is an important one.”