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Dear Editor: Please wear masks often and appropriately, they will save lives this Christmas

“[…] I have heard so many persons say: ‘I do not know how I got this virus, I did all the right things’. However, when you speak with them you realise that they were negligent with regard to the wearing of masks.

Any situation where you are not wearing a mask, in close proximity to others, is very risky business—whether or not such persons are family members…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the importance of masks in the fight against Covid-19 was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of Maraj Trace, Freeman Road, St Augustine:

Photo: A man wears a protective face mask as a preventive measure against the new coronavirus in Caracas, Venezuela on 24 March 2020.
(Copyright AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

In the fight against the Covid-19 virus, the most important weapon in our armoury is the Covid-19 vaccine. However, it is quite apparent that many of our fellow citizens, for whatever reason, are reluctant to take it. 

Some are vaccine hesitant, while others are anti-vaxxers. No effort should be spared in getting such persons to recognise the deadly risk to themselves, their families, friends, colleagues, and other persons with whom they may come into contact, as a result of their stance.

Nevertheless, it is critically important that all our citizens recognise that, whether or not they are vaccinated, they can reduce their risks considerably by strictly adhering to some of the other health protocols/guidelines, chief among which are wearing a mask, physically distancing, and sanitising hands.

I have heard so many persons say: ‘I do not know how I got this virus, I did all the right things’. However, when you speak with them, you realise that they were negligent with regard to the wearing of masks.

Any situation where you are not wearing a mask, in close proximity to others, is very risky business—whether or not such persons are family members.

Photo: An elderly man has his mask on his chin as he waits to be vaccinated at the Siparia Health Facility on 9 June 2021.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/Wired868)

The wearing of a properly designed and fitted mask is absolutely essential, and this issue will be the focus of my attention in the remainder of my discourse.

I know of three separate instances that resulted in the death of elderly relatives with co-morbidities, because five or six members of a household sat around a table together to share a family meal—obviously unmasked. In the era of Covid, such activities can have deadly consequences. We must remember that fact with the Christmas season upon us.

Two or more unmasked individuals sharing a bed or other sleeping accommodation in close proximity to each other is also very risky business. But what then must a husband and wife do?! 

Just a few days ago, an elderly friend of mine who was fully vaccinated but had a co-morbidity that severely affected his immune system died from Covid. The source was his much younger wife.

We have to be very alert when we venture into lunchrooms, restrooms and toilets—either at work, or in other public places where masks come off.

Photo: A couple have a drink at a restaurant.
Alcohol consumption is still prohibited on premises that are public places.

Bars and restaurants might be considered, legally, to be safe zones, but unmasked patrons and staff can still contract and transmit the Covid virus, especially to their unvaccinated relatives, friends and other persons whom they come into contact with, depending on the situation.

Many persons draw comfort from the fact that they do not attend zesser parties. However, in our culture, it is almost routine to have four or five neighbours ‘buss a lime’ with us in our gallery/verandah/porch/garage, at least once per week after work.

During such encounters, we all have to remove our masks in order to eat and drink. Yet another opportunity for Covid to deliver a deadly blow.

Neighbours talk to each other over-the-fence, occasionally in very close proximity to each other—especially as the information they are sharing is usually sensitive/confidential. They talk in whispers. Even if they are wearing masks, which is not usually the case, they are not observing the minimum distance for physical distancing under the relevant Covid protocol. 

Photo: NCRHA health care workers send a message to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
(via NCRHA)

In fact, quite often, one neighbour is in her yard unmasked, when another unmasked neighbour beckons her to come to the fence to share some juicy gossip.

My fellow citizens, please take heed. Your very lives may be at stake.

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Letters to the Editor
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2 comments

  1. Yes, mask wearing is of vital importance but what about the quality standards with regard to cloth masks that so many of us prefer. Are these standars being adhered to ?.  From my observations, and I am sure most will agree, the answer is NO.  This ought to be an increasingly serious concern of the authorities  given the more highly transmissible Delta variant.

    Something ought to be done also to sensitize the public on proper mask handling.  This is separate from fitting the mask to one’s face. I am appalled at what  I observe sometimes: disposable masks being reused, cloth masks not being washed often, masks being stored on just any surface available,  hands not being sanitized before handling of mask, sharing of masks between children etc.  We all know what could result from such  complacency.  Simple messaging via tv and the social media could be helpful in this regard.

    • In a country where people walk about with their heads empty, no messaging is simple.

      The messaging must be clear on who its targets are AND on what they need to be told. Noble Philip’s piece of today’s date explains clearly the complexity of the context.