Wear face masks: I protect you, you protect me

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State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi warned the public to wear face masks in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that wearing masks provides protection to the wearer, as well protection for others.
She noted that transmission of the coronavirus occurs before those who are infected show any symptoms. Therefore, infected persons think themselves free of infection from the Coronavirus, and those close to some infected people have the same view.
It is also a welcome step that regional authorities have issued a new regulation to help stem the transmission of the coronavirus, by enforcing the wearing of face masks.
Meanwhile, the Mandalay Region government announced yesterday that wearing a mask “is a must” for local people when they go outside, as of 9 May. A first step in greater protection is designated from 9 to 15 May with the order “wear or buy”. If a person is caught not wearing a mask in public, he or she would be required to purchase two masks at the cost of K100.
After 15 May, a person caught not wearing a mask in public must buy two masks at the cost of K5000.
With current COVID-19 health guidelines, including hand washing campaigns, the mass education about the safe use and removal of masks is necessary. To encourage the people, it must be explained that if a mask is contaminated at removal, it has already protected them from contagious droplets.
In fact, wearing a mask is about limiting transmission from those unaware they are infected, instead of acting as a protective measure for healthy subjects.
If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask reduces the chance of the disease being passed on. If someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others.
This is why masks are crucial for remaining safe, especially in this time of the COVID-19 crisis.
Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated that masks provide a roughly fivefold protection, versus there being no barrier (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).
Wearing a mask in public can serve as our unified action in the fight against the pandemic, while also reminding the people of the importance of practising social distancing measures.
With the mindset of “I protect you, you protect me” provided by masks, we can overcome the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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