Nation Prime

Why you should get yourself a mask now

By NASIBO KABALE
More by this Author
Saturday April 11 2020

This past week, the Nation ran a campaign on masks. We brought you stories on just how important masks are in this time of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

We interviewed many experts to explain just how important it is to adopt a life of wearing masks globally and its impact locally.

The reason we did this was to give facts and help you understand the importance of wearing a mask. We wanted to give your friends and family ways to keep yourself safe as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases increased in the country.

INITIAL UNCERTAINTY

When Covid-19 was first reported, there was uncertainty on whether masks were beneficial to healthy people. Experts called on people to leave masks for health workers.

But after weeks of denial, the World Health Organisation (WHO) revised its stand on masks, acknowledging that wearing one is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including Covid-19.

TINY AGENT

It is important to note that the virus is tiny ¬– thousands of times smaller than a human hair, light enough to float suspended in water particles that fly from the mouth when coughing or even talking, and certainly too small to be seen by the naked eye.

Despite our inability to see the virus, we can see the devastation it has caused around the globe.

The presence of the coronavirus can be seen in the lonely offices, the quiet streets, the now half-filled buses and matatus and the mask covering most of our faces.

VOLUNTARY MEASURE

For now, the government has requested that people get masks. Wearing a mask is voluntary at this time but it might soon be compulsory.

The French government, for example, initially said that the vast majority of people need not wear face masks because they did not guarantee protection for the wearer.

In Asia and a few European nations, the logic has been fundamentally different: if all individuals wear masks, the society will be protected.

In places such as the Czech Republic or Hong Kong, where the coronavirus appears to be contained, almost everyone is wearing a face mask. In the United States, by contrast, only a minority of people wear masks when they are out in public.

CULTURAL NORM

Many believe that the wearing of masks in East Asia could have helped control the spread of the coronavirus there.

In this part of the world, wearing of masks was a cultural norm even before the coronavirus outbreak.

In mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan, the assumption is that anyone could be a carrier of the virus, even healthy people. So in the spirit of solidarity, masks have been used to protect others from oneself.

The truth is that wearing a mask can be a little annoying – you feel restricted and uncomfortable – but it could be what saves you and your loved ones.

UNKNOWING PATIENTS

If you are not convinced that you should be wearing a face mask, it is important to note that 25 percent of people who have coronavirus do not know it.

These people risk infecting many after coming into contact with them.

In the coming weeks, the government has promised to saturate the market with locally produced masks, which will make them affordable.

Once face masks are available and affordable, it will be interesting to see if all Kenyans will be required to wear masks.

In the meantime, get a mask!