Combating coronavirus: Why you need to wear masks and gloves
The government is doing its bit to stop the spread of Covid-19 and you need to do yours. In this five-part #KTForGood series, we explain how staying safe and taking all precautions is the 'new normal'.
By Saman Haziq
Published: Tue 12 May 2020, 9:00 PM
Last updated: Wed 13 May 2020, 2:22 AM
As you get ready to face the 'new normal' outside your home, there are two questions you need to ask before stepping out that door: Where's your face mask? And your gloves?
Time and again, the UAE authorities have reminded everyone that face masks must be worn at all times when heading out - and for a good reason. This practice will help prevent the spread of the virus, experts said.
Doctors pointed out that since a significant number of Covid-positive patients do not show symptoms, they may transmit the virus to others inadvertently if they don't wear masks and take the necessary precautions.
Dr Tope Titilayo Odofa, head of the emergency department at RAK Hospital, said that the Covid-19 virus can be transmitted during people's interactions - for example, through speaking, coughing, or sneezing. And face masks could be the barrier people need to stop this transmission.
Cited by the World Economic Forum (WEF), one study examined the use of masks in households to prevent respiratory virus transmission. And it found an 80 per cent reduction in contracting respiratory illness among those who complied and wore masks.
While face masks and gloves are considered basic preventive measures in the time of Covid, Dr Odofa cautioned that these must be also used properly.
"When masks are worn, they are extremely efficacious," the WEF said.
"The uses of these two have their limitations and people wearing them should be well aware of how to use them best. This is particularly true for single-use masks and gloves that should be disposed of after every use so that it does not infect other surfaces," she said.
People who work at supermarkets and retail shops, for example, must be extra mindful in changing their protective equipment, the doctor added.
In the case of medical masks, Dr Odofa said: "While the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved any type of surgical masks specifically for the protection against Covid-19, these do provide basic some protection when N95 masks are not available.
"At the end of the day, our priority should be to protect ourselves and those around us by adhering to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Prevention."
Dr Abdul Khaliq Farooqui, general practitioner at Right Health clinic in Jebel Ali, said it is also important to ensure that a face mask covers one's nose, mouth and ear and eyes, as these are the primary entry points of the virus.
"The mask size should be appropriate for the face of the individual and should provide adequate coverage," he said.
How wearing masks works in other countries' fight against Covid-19
People should also be careful while they are wearing gloves, Dr Farooqui said.
Once the gloves are on, the wearer must refrain from touching his face - otherwise, the protective wear will be useless. "Also, a person cannot use the same gloves all the time," he added.
Besides wearing face masks and gloves properly, some more precautionary measures should be taken to get complete protection, Dr Farooqui said.
"Washing your hands and using sanitisers are the preferred way of staying away from germs. So, when coming back home from outside, everyone should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
DOS AND DON'TS
From the beginning of the outbreak, China, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea were among those that promoted widespread use of masks. Notwithstanding that additional strategies have also been implemented - thorough testing, effective contact tracing, mandated social distancing - all of these countries have effectively managed risks.
Some areas that did not have mandated widespread wearing of masks, like New York and Milan, have faced huge challenges. "Though it is currently impossible to conclusively attribute this difference in outcomes to widespread use of masks, we are invited to reconsider its effectiveness as an intervention." (Source: World Economic Forum)
ON WEARING MASKS (from the World Health Organisation)
. Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
. Cover your mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
. Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
. To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
ON WEARING GLOVES
. Keep changing your gloves when you're touching more surfaces
. Always wash your hands after taking them off
. Do not touch your face mask, eyes and nose while wearing your gloves