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25.04.2020 Feature Article

Nose Masks: The New Social Norm

Nose Masks: The New Social Norm
LISTEN APR 25, 2020

The outbreak of the novel corona virus has seen millions of people getting infected worldwide with some thousands of deaths. Accordingly, the WHO in collaboration with world leaders have championed global preventive campaigns against this pandemic: ranging from stay at home campaigns, lockdowns and the promotion of simple health behaviours such as regular washing of hands and the use of hand sanitizers. One of such preventive measures that have been recommended to play a critical role in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 is the use of nose masks.

Nose masks have become one of the most important Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the fight against this pandemic.1 They come in different types and forms including the N95 respirator which is known to remove at least 95% of the droplets of the COVID-19 2; the surgical masks, and homemade masks. The surgical mask is known to protect both the mouth and nose from larger droplets of the virus from coughs and/or sneeze. Homemade masks, on the other hand, do not possess the effectiveness of the N95 or the surgical mask but is way protective than having no mask at all.

The aim of wearing a nose mask is primarily to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 from an infected person to an uninfected person. Thus, they have become an indispensable component of PPEs that must be worn particularly in this period where countries have begun to ease their restrictions on movement and lift lock downs. The basic assumption here is that having any of the types of nose mask, irrespective of the level of protection that it offers, is rationally safer and good health protocol than having no nose masks at all. Hence, the wearing of these masks can now be regarded as a new social norm; one that many people around the globe have to adjust and assimilate.

Unlike some Asian countries like China and Taiwan where the use of nose mask is common among the populace particularly due to the outbreak of the SARS epidemic, many people around the world see this as a new norm and may take time to assimilate. However, it must be noted that countries across the globe have begun to make the wearing of these masks mandatory for its citizenry. The Czech Republic was the first European country to have made it mandatory for its citizens to wear nose masks in public space such as in the pharmacy, supermarket, mall, etc. Following this, other countries including Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Morocco, etc. have followed suit. Other countries such as Ghana have made it mandatory to wear face masks in the epicenter of the disease.

This dramatic change in daily living and the need to adjust to this new norm may not be easy. It will require commitment from all stakeholders. Individuals would have to come to the realization that we are not in ordinary times and for that matter, we ought to compromise our comfortability and prioritize healthy life protocols. Public health organizations in collaboration with various governments around the world can harness the power of social media and the mass media to sensitize individuals and educate them about the need for them to wear a nose masks whenever they go into the public.

In summary, the wearing of nose masks has become the new norm following the outbreak of the novel corona virus. The adaptation to this new norm may not be an easy one as people are accustomed to a different way of life; a life of total freedom and absolutely zero need for face and nose masks. In as much as these nose masks are quintessential to reducing the spread of the COVID-19 particularly from asymptomatic patients, it doesn’t nullify the adherence to other preventive protocols such as regular washing of hands, the use of alcohol-based sanitizers and the observation of social distancing protocols. However, having a nose mask on will significantly reduce the spread of the pandemic.

References

  1. Santarpia JL, Rivera DN, Herrera V, et al. Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 in Viral Shedding Observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. medRxiv. 2020: 2020.2002023.20039446
  2. Brosseau L. COMMENTARY: COVID-19 transmission messages should hinge on science. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/03/commentary-covid-19-transmission-messages-should-hinge-science. Published 2020.

Joshua Okyere
Joshua Okyere, © 2020

The author has 29 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JoshuaOkyere

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