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22.04.2020 Feature Article

Why Should We Wear Mask In Public?

Why Should We Wear Mask In Public?
LISTEN APR 22, 2020

There are so many controversies about wearing mask in public. Some people are saying you should only wear mask when you are coming into contact with COVID-19 patients, otherwise, only Carers and health workers should wear mask not everyone.

I bet to differ, the most important thing to do is to study the virus and find out the mode of transmission before making a decision whether to wear a mask or not.

Virus is a microscopic organism which means it can only be seen with a microscope. It is smaller that bacteria, even the largest virus is still smaller the than the smallest bacteria.It can therefore be carried around easily.

Viruses spread in many ways. One transmission pathway is through disease-bearing organisms known as vectors: for example aphids or blood sucking insects. Influenza viruses are spread by coughing and sneezing.Norovirus and rotavirus, common causes of gastroenteritis, are transmitted by the faecal-oral route, passed by contact and entering the body in food and water.HIV is one of several viruses transmitted through sexual contact.

The mode of transmission of COVID-19 is not known .What we do know is that COVID-19 infect the respiratory system and therefore could enter the respiratory system mainly through the mouth or nose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in US have said that SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus so is COVID-19 ,and as such, it is mainly transmitted between people through "respiratory droplets" when symptomatic people sneeze or cough. This is what led to the CDC's advice to maintain at least a 2-metre distance between you and other people (social distancing).

Virus is a non living organism, it is only replicated inside the cell of a living organism.Virus needs a medium to be transported from one place to another.The medium could be air, water or animal.Any moving object in effect can transport this virus.

When dust particles are blown, they could carry these viruses around and when they land on any surface and you touch this surface and then touch your face or consume anything, these viruses can enter your body.

There are lysozyme in your tears so the virus could be killed when it happens to enter your eyes.

When it enters your mouth, it can be washed down into the stomach through the oesophagus,as soon as it lands in the stomach it will be killed by the stomach acid.

The virus that enters the mouth can still enter the respiratory system through the trachea. Food or water that enters the mouth can mistakenly enter the respiratory system, because, the trachea and oesophagus lie side by side with epiglottis, a flap covering the wind pipe preventing substances which are meant to enter the osophagus to enter the trachea (wind pipe), so when substances mistakenly enter the trachea (windpipe), you will cough till the substance is removed.

This means that a virus that enters the mouth can be trapped at the epiglottis and eventually enter the trachea or be washed down the oesophagus when you drink water. Drinking water at regular intervals can wash the virus into the stomach to be killed by the stomach acid which has pH of 2. This is why it has been recommended to sip water regularly.

The virus can enter your nose, it again needs medium to be transported down the respiratory system.

Since this virus needs a medium like air(dust particles) or water vapour(droplets) to be transported from one place to another, it is essential to wear a mask so that transmission through dust particles or droplets could be blocked by the mask or any barrier that can block them from coming into contact with your face or any opening in your body. It is against this background that

I encourage you to wear your mask as soon as you step outside your house or flat.

Michael Frempong
Biological Scientist, London

Michael Frempong
Michael Frempong, © 2020

The author has 19 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: MichaelFrempong

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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