The global COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and the health agencies globally are urging people to continue wearing a mask and to maintain social distance. While the majority of people continue to follow these instructions, a vast majority of people have become complacent, and this has led to the rise of a few myths around wearing face masks.
You might hear people saying that you only need to wear a mask if you’re sick! Or, you don’t need to maintain social distance while masked! These are some of the common myths around wearing face masks. However, the reality is opposite to what people are choosing to believe.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, you must have heard conflicting information around wearing a face mask. Here are some of those myths that we’ll be debunking today.
Myth: 1: Wearing a Mask Won’t Stop the Spread of COVID-19
When appropriately worn (covering the mouth and nose), face masks can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other droplet & airborne viruses. When you sneeze, cough or even talk, you release respiratory droplets that can cause viruses like COVID-19 to spread; a mask can stop the spread to a great extent.
Myth: 2: If I’m Healthy, I Don’t Need to Wear a Mask
You can have Coronavirus and be asymptomatic (meaning you don’t have symptoms but are infected), you can spread COVID-19 to others unknowingly. You can also have the virus days before you start to show any symptoms for up to 14 days, which means you could be contagious to others you come into contact with. That’s why it’s important to wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. When you wear a mask, you’re protecting everyone — not just yourself.
Myth: 3: Wearing a Mask is Suffocating / Lowers My Oxygen Levels
Another common misconception with wearing a mask is that it can trap carbon dioxide inside, causing your oxygen levels to drop and can lead to suffocation. The truth is that there’s practically no chance of carbon dioxide accumulating inside your mask. Face coverings, including cloth masks, will only protect you from viruses, dust, pollens, and they do not lower your oxygen levels.
Myth: 4: I Can Remove My Mask When I’m Alone in a Public Place
Even when you’re alone in a public area, cover your face to reduce your risk of getting sick and protect others from getting sick. COVID-19 transmission happens primarily through droplets, and the airborne virus particles can stay suspended for a long time, thus wearing a mask is critical, especially in public places.
Myth: 5: I Don’t Need to Practice Social Distancing When I Wear a Mask
Wearing a face mask is a proven tool to stop the spread of COVID-19, but social distancing also plays a vital role in minimising the spread. Even while wearing a mask, maintaining proper social distancing can help protect you and others from getting infected.
Proper Social Distancing Means:
- Staying 6 feet apart from others
- Avoiding crowds
- Not shaking hands or giving hugs
- Avoiding meetings in public places as much as possible
In addition to social distancing, there are plenty of other ways to protect yourself against the Coronavirus. These include:
- Washing your hands often & for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser and wipes with at least 70% alcohol are great, too.
- Avoiding touching your face. Especially your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Covering your mouth and nose with the crook of your elbow when coughing and sneezing.
- Keeping surfaces clean and disinfected at your home, school and workplace.
- Practising self-isolation if you’re not feeling well, resting, drinking lots of fluids and consulting a doctor over the phone or a video call
Just like you never forget to carry your keys or phone, don’t forget to grab your mask before you leave your home.