Wearing a face mask is considered essential to your health in the midst of a pandemic – here’s why
Find out why wearing a facemark is considered essential to your health in the midst of the current pandemic.
While the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has not entirely gone from Canada, it has slowed down after reaching its peak in the country. After hitting a record of 2,760 daily cases in May, the pandemic averaged just over 400 daily cases in August.
This statistic seems positive when you compare it to many other countries around the world. However, it paints a worrisome picture when you compare it to the first two weeks in July, where the seven-day average was lower than 300 cases.
This gradual resurgence of COVID-19 calls for a renewed level of commitment for safety practices recommended by health experts.
This, of course, includes social distancing or staying two meters apart from others. But as life slowly gets back to a normal pace, it also refers to wearing a face mask during your regular activities.
Face masks became a recommended practice in the early months of COVID-19
When the coronavirus first spread throughout the world, most health experts and governments focused on social distancing in the absence of extensive knowledge about the disease.
As sufficient data was not available at the time, limiting contact with other people was the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus.
This approach also held true for Canada, where the first COVID-19 case was registered in late January, and lockdown measures started in mid-March.
As social distancing helped contain the virus during its initial outbreak, new data soon came forward to outline additional safety measures. This also included the practice of wearing face masks, which became a recommended measure in May.
At the time, Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, outlined that wearing face masks in places where social distancing wasn’t possible could help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The findings were echoed by other public health experts in the country, who pointed to the efficacy of masks in cases where maintaining a distance of two meters was unfeasible.
Since these recommendations were unveiled to the general population, many public places, and private businesses throughout the country made it a requirement for visitors and patrons to wear masks during their trips.
A face mask is considered to be essential as we maneuver through COVID-19
COVID-19 spreads through the transmission of respiratory droplets whenever a person talks, coughs or even breathes. When these droplets make contact with anyone who is in the immediate vicinity of an infected person, they can contract the virus.
According to several studies, people who become infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to others even before they develop any symptoms of the disease. Some of these individuals remain asymptomatic. As such, they don’t develop any symptoms at all despite being able to spread the virus to others.
This means that if you are infected with COVID-19, you can inadvertently transmit it to healthy individuals before you show any symptoms (if at all). This is why practices such as social distancing are critical to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But in places where you cannot maintain a distance of at least two meters, having a protective barrier between your face and the air around you can limit the spread of your respiratory droplets. This is where the advice of wearing a face mask comes into the picture.
The practice is critical in the midst of the pandemic
It has been more than seven months since this coronavirus first made its presence known in Canada. After months of lockdown and quarantine, most of us have to take up the challenge of coping with gradual reopening and getting our lives back to business.
The current spike in novel coronavirus cases is linked to individual incidents and general lack of care alike. As more public places reopen and more activities resume throughout the country, it would become difficult to maintain social distancing at every other step.
This is already noticed in markets and other essential settings, where maintaining a distance of two meters isn’t always possible.
As face masks absorb your respiratory droplets, they provide you with an easy to follow safety measure to slow the spread of COVID-19 even in challenging scenarios.
With this in mind, it becomes clear that this particular practice needs to be followed by everyone. But it is more critical for those who work service jobs or deal with several people a day in an in-person environment. When you lead by example and show others the importance of wearing a face mask, it has a positive impact on the people you meet through your everyday activities.
Wearing a mask at your job, during your grocery run, or even through your daily jog not only helps you do your part in protecting others but also encourages those around you to return the same courtesy. As a result, your simple action can motivate the larger population around you to follow this critical health practice and help slow down the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Wearing a mask is a critical practice during these difficult times
With most COVID-19 vaccine candidates still under trial, it is safe to say that the earliest possible vaccine might not be available until late 2020. This is also the best-case scenario for a vaccine’s development.
But even then, a vaccine that passes all trials might not be 100 percent effective in eradicating COVID-19. To summarize, it would be a long time before we can get back to the life that we knew before the novel coronavirus. As we make our way through these new challenges, it is critical that we grow familiar with wearing a face mask through our daily activities.
As wearing face masks doesn’t affect our oxygen levels, breathing quality, or general comfort, it is the least we can do to make sure that our lives can get back to normal after a year full of unprecedented events. Apart from showing our social conscience, it ultimately benefits our own health and way of life.