Surviving COVID -19 : How to wear a mask!

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By Abria Cooper

With new cases popping up in Grand Bahama and New Providence over the past two weeks
living in a world post the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brings a great deal of lifestyle
changes for people all over the world including the Bahamas.

Acquaintances rarely if ever greet one another with handshakes or hugs anymore, beaches and
parks are often closed to discourage the gatherings of loud crowds and people can no longer visit
shops, offices and other business establishments without wearing a bandana or mask that covers
their mouths and noses.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization
now recommend cloth masks for the general public.

Wearing a face mask will help prevent the spread of infection and prevent the individual from
contracting any airborne infectious germs. When someone coughs, talks, sneezes they could
release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Face masks are part of an infection
control strategy to eliminate cross-contamination.

For the past several weeks, residents of the Bahamas have endured the added heat created by the
relatively thin swaths of fabric covering half of their faces when they leave their homes. Some
have taken the change in stride, buying festively decorated masks so that they have one for every
occasion and outfit, some begrudging wear the new accessory. Nevertheless it is something all
residents must adhere to.

Fortunately, cloth face coverings and masks are easy to find or make, and can be washed and
reused. Masks can be made from common materials, such as sheets made of tightly woven cotton.
Instructions are easy to find online. Cloth masks should include multiple layers of fabric.

The implementation of this new rule leaves little room for questioning by members of the public
unless prepared to face the repercussions of disobedience, however there is one question that
sometimes arises among the masses which is are we wearing our masks properly and safely. If
not how can we do that?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been a leading source of information since the COVID-19 pandemic started. According to the WHO there is a list of criteria one must follow in order to wear their masks the right way.

First your mask should be worn on your face without having gaps on the sides, it must cover your nose, mouth and chin, you should avoid touching the mask as much as impossible and if
you have to make sure your hands are clean.

Mask maintenance requires keeping it in a clean, plastic, re-sealable bag if it is not dirty and you
plan to re-use it, to clean your mask you can wash it in soap detergent, preferably with hot water
at least once a day.

Some people are skeptical regarding the effectiveness of cloth masks against the spread of
OCIVD-19, but according to research wearing face masks combined with other preventive
measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, does help slow the spread of the
virus.

At the beginning of the pandemic, health experts did not recommend wearing face masks die to
certain factors. In the beginning, experts did not know the extent to which people with COVID-
19 could spread the virus before symptoms appeared. Nor was it known that some people have
COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to
others.

A cloth mask is intended to trap droplets that are released when the wearer talks, coughs or
sneezes.

Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus when they are
widely used by people in public settings. Countries that required face masks, testing, isolation
and social distancing early in the pandemic have successfully slowed the spread of the virus.

In an article by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ‘CDC calls on Americans
to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread published on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. The results of
a Missouri case study provide further evidence on the benefits of wearing a cloth face covering.

Researchers from Cox Health hospitals, Washington University, the University of Kansas, and
the Springfield-Greene County Health Department worked together to trace contacts, investigate
the cases, and publish their findings in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
(MMWR).

According to the article “The investigation focused on two hair stylists infected with and having
symptoms of COVID-19, whose salon policy followed a local ordinance requiring cloth face
coverings for all employees and patrons.”

This results of the investigation detailed that none of the stylists’ 139 clients or secondary
contacts became ill, and all 67 clients who volunteered to be tested showed no sign of infection.

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