KOCHI: When Covid cases started declining, the state removed almost all restrictions and fines, directing people to take precautions that keep them safe. Though penalties for not wearing a mask have been lifted, experts dealing with infectious diseases, and pulmonologists feel there is every chance for the air-borne diseases and droplet infections to rise. However, the youngsters, especially those who go out often, feel it is unnecessary to wear them in the open areas as they make it harder to breathe.
Uttar Pradesh recently reinstated the fine for not wearing masks. Delhi also made masks mandatory as the number of Covid cases went up after a lull. In Kerala, though the number of cases is less now, pulmonologists advise people that N95 or surgical masks are beneficial in preventing other infections as well, and the public should be wearing them at least indoors or in crowded public areas.
Covid fear waning
The people who are dealing with more people on a daily basis also started either lowering the masks or not wearing them. In a medical shop in Kaloor, all staff members at the counter were seen without masks. When asked, they replied that it was very difficult to sit with your mouth and nose closed in the hot weather for a long time. The fan speed was not enough to reduce their suffering and they preferred to keep their masks away.
The same was the scene in a post office nearby, where the public was seen standing in queue to send their couriers. The young woman officer, who sat behind the glass counter, smiled and replied: “The fear of Covid is gradually waning and it is difficult to sit for a long time in this small space in this hot weather wearing a mask. Since we are sitting behind the counter, it seems safer now,” she said.
Public hygiene important
However, experts in infectious diseases do not take things so lightly. “Wearing masks, especially indoors, will be helpful in preventing multiple diseases including tuberculosis. In the long run, we may not be able to make masks mandatory in open areas, but these can at least be made mandatory in closed areas. In the US, the federal law says that wearing masks is mandatory inside the vehicles and even inside a conference room. On the contrary, those who are having respiratory issues, wearing masks will be problematic. N95 masks can create oxygen drops in people suffering from asthma. Cloth masks have wider pores and will be helpful for them,” said Dr Rajalakshmi A, senior consultant for infectious disease, Kims Health, Thiruvananthapuram.
The expert also advised that public hygiene habits like spitting in the open space also should be stopped. Another suggestion from a pulmonologist is to continue wearing the mask for personal safety, irrespective of the government directions. “Other than Covid, chances of getting any viral infection have been reduced by wearing masks. Many types of allergies are also prevented by wearing them,” said Dr Vivian Wilson, pulmonologist at Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi.
According to the World Health Organisation, masks can be avoided during workouts, but in other areas, wearing masks can increase the protection from potential infections. Dr Mohan Roy, RMO at Government Medical College Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, said severe respiratory issues and allergies are reduced during the mask-wearing period, and hence, people should consider wearing masks as part of personal safety.
Before Kerala struck down the mask mandate, various countries in the world had done so. Wearing masks in open is optional in the UAE, Denmark, the US, England and others
Making infants wear masks is a headache. If we do not make them wear it, they will be comfortable and would not be touching their face often. But when we forcibly make them wear it, they feel irritated and will try to take it off often. As a result, they are more likely to get infected. The best option is to let parents wear the masks properly
Nimisha Sajeev, new mother
If all other restrictions can be taken away, why can’t we say goodbye to these masks too? Yeah, it’s true that we indeed need to be concerned about our health. But, it is terrible to keep the mask on especially during this summer. When will we be able to breathe in the fresh air again? And also not worried about paying a fine for not wearing a mask?
Elizabeth Saniya, St Albert’s College, Kochi
As you know, certain states have already shown liberty in wearing masks and people have taken advantage of it because of which the number of Covid cases have once again rocketing. We are in a country with a lot of people who are unaware of the rapid spread of Covid. So if you give a choice of not wearing it, people will definitely think Covid is done.Sreelekshmi P, Journalism student, Kerala Media Academy
Wearing a mask while working out, people might experience a hard time catching their breath and also might feel fatigued faster than usual. Breathing in the right format/rhythm is an important factor while working out. You need to understand the right breathing pattern while running or lifting weights or during any floor-based workouts
Poornima Viswanathan,Founder, Zwagg Fitness