Photo: Yahoo NZ

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

While about 60 percent of all Mexicans now use face masks at least part of the time when they are away from their homes, less than 20 percent of those who do wear masks, wear them correctly.

“The objective of wearing a face mask is to prevent tiny mucous particles from spreading when we talk, cough or sneeze,” explained Miguel Betancourt Cravioto, president of the Mexican Society of Public Health (SMSP), in a video press conference sponsored by the Mexican Communication Council (CC) on Wednesday, Aug. 26.

A properly worn mask can protect both the wearer and others from contagion, Betancourt Cravioto said.

A properly worn mask can protect both the wearer and others from contagion.

“But if that mask does not cover both the nose and mouth, or if it does not fit snuggly, it isn’t going to protect against contagion,” he said.

Notwithstanding, Betancourt Cravioto said that it is far more common in Mexico for people to wear face masks below their noses or loosely fitted.

Consequently, the CC, a Mexican private sector organization that sponsors public service and awareness campaigns, has launched a nationwide campaign to help educate people on how to wear a face mask correctly in order to reduce the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus.

“There have been more than half a million confirmed cases of covid-18 in Mexico, and more than 80,000 deaths from this virus, so we all need to be responsible in doing our part to try to slow its spread,” added Roberto Guillermo Calva y Rodríguez, president of the Mexican Academy of Pediatrics, who also spoke at the press conference.

“Everyone over the age of two should be wearing a mask any time they go out of their homes.”

Calva y Rodríguez said that since covid-19 is a very contagious virus primarily passed through person-to-person exposure via mucous membranes, it is important to cull its spread through mask wearing, as well as with social distancing (at least 2 meters apart from others) and frequent hand washing with soap and water (soap neutralizes the virus so it cannot attach to cells in the body).

Studies have shown that the correct use of an appropriate face mask can reduce the spread of the virus by about 50 percent, Betancourt Cravioto said, and if everyone is using face masks properly, that figure can be as high as 80 percent.

All face masks should cover the mouth, nose and chin, and there should be no gaps between the mask and skin where the virus can enter — in other word, no open flaps.

But if those masks are not worn properly, Betancourt Cravioto said that they do next to nothing in slowing the spread of the disease.

Based on guidelines set down by the World Health Organization (WHO), all face masks should cover the mouth, nose and chin, and there should be no gaps between the mask and skin where the virus can enter — in other word, no open flaps.

And although it may be tempting to remove a mask briefly while still in public, Betancourt Cravioto pointed out that doing so could expose both fingers and face to the very virus that the mask is intended to avoid.

“You should put on your mask before you leave your house and not take it off again until you are back inside your home,” said Calva y Rodríguez.

“Also, be sure to wash you hands thoroughly before you put on the mask and as soon as you take it off.”

Betancourt Cravioto likewise said that people should only wear clean, breathable masks.

Re-wearing the same mask could expose you to contaminants, he said.

Re-wearing the same mask could expose you to contaminants.

While medical personnel and people in high-risk jobs may require N-95 or KN-95 masks (which can block up to 95 percent of contaminants), most people can use disposable masks and cloth masks, as long as they have three layers of protection and are clean and not damp, he said.

To put on your mask, hold it by the ear loops and try not to touch the cloth. The same practice applies when removing your mask.

Again, the mask should cover from the top of your nose to below your chin, and fit snugly against the sides of your face.

However, Betancourt Cravioto said that a mask shouldn’t be so tight that it is difficult to breathe through.

If your mask has a wired side at the top, meant to adhere to the shape of your nose, press down on it to make it adjust to your face for a more snug and comfortable fit.

And if the mask has pleats, they should open downward.

Once you have put your mask on, don’t touch it again until you take it off.

Once positioned on your face, pull the mask up so it covers your nose, and tug it down so it covers your mouth.

“Once you have put your mask on, don’t touch it again until you take it off,” Calva y Rodríguez said.

“Unfortunately, wearing masks is going to be a part of our new normal for a long time to come, at least through December 2021,” said Betancourt Cravioto.

“But the more people who wear masks — and wear them properly — the sooner we can all get back to a modified old normal. It is important that we all wear masks. and that we wear them properly, for our own safety and for that of others.”

…Aug. 27, 2020

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