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Face masks effective in stopping spread of virus

De Facto

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

We still need to do more to stop the spread of Covid-19. The increased measures over the past couple of weeks appear to be working. Yet, the number of deaths is still shocking.
In Britain, Boris Johnson and his government are coming under severe criticism for their handling of the pandemic. 500 deaths have been recorded some days. His claim to ‘follow the science’ has landed him on the front pages. Papers that once espoused his leadership are now openly critical and demanding he take action.
Everywhere across the world there is a slow realisation of a simple fact – people spread the virus. Keep people away from each other and it cannot spread. That’s an ideal world, but it works.
The apparent lockdowns that are now part of daily life in so many countries were too slow in coming. While political and scientific leaders downplayed the importance of lockdowns, many people were calling out for more stringent measures to combat the spread of the virus. Ireland was no exception. When nursing homes here took the lead in imposing a lockdown, they were roundly criticised by the likes of Dr Tony Holohan and others.
My wife has been researching the virus and has been really impressed by what’s happening in the Czech Republic and other countries. She has even forwarded the details to the health authorities in this country, providing links. It’s about wearing face masks in public and at work.
It is already the law in some countries. One country went ahead without waiting for their leaders – the Czech Republic. It is a country of just over ten million people. Their campaign was run through the power of social media. Now everyone wears a facemask. In three days the people provided ten million masks.
Social distancing and the stay at home rules were being practiced. They were also big on strict hygiene practices. Yet, like other countries the number of infected people continued to rise. Wearing a face mask eventually took off and now everyone wears one in public or while they are at work. They even have places where you can pick one up – designated trees in public areas where spare masks are left hanging on the branches.
The Czech Republic has seriously slowed down the spread of the virus by doing this. In simple terms, wearing a face mask can prevent the spread from you to others. People who have the virus are contagious before they have symptoms. They can spread it without knowing it.
In the Czech Republic they have a simple mantra when wearing the face mask – I protect you, you protect me. A face mask helps against the spread of the virus droplets – so less spreading means less cases.
The campaign in the Czech Republic was not government led. People realised that they had to do more to contain the spread of the virus. Studies on the effectiveness of wearing face masks were cited on social media by some people and it started.
In a short time everyone started wearing them. They didn’t wait for the government to supply them. They simply made their own. There are many videos available online to show how simple it is. A few influencers in social media took the lead and headed up the campaign.
The success of the campaign is that ten million masks were provided in three days. Sewing machines were clattering across the country. Houses, apartments, nursing homes and workplaces hummed to the sweet sound of Singers and Brothers as face mask after face mask was turned out.
Sewing booths grew up everywhere. People made homemade masks and gave them away free. It is amazing how it was possible to provide ten million in three days! The infection has been fundamentally repressed. Masks can be washed and reused.
The same can be done here. It has already been adopted in other countries. Masks save lives. The World Health Organisation is even coming around to supporting the idea.  
Wearing face masks in public is acceptable in Asian countries but often frowned upon in western countries. We need to get a life, literally! The reason is simple – I protect you, you protect me.