Debates and controversy have been a daily occurance on whether masks provide adequate protection against coronavirus. Even among professionals, opinion is diverse on the use of masks by people.
On streets, one immediately notices that the absolute majority of people in Malta do not wear the mask. In some countries, although it is not obligatory the mask is widely being used in countries in Asia, the United States and the Czech Republic.
Dr Frank Portelli, whose sister Rosalie died of Covid-19 in a hospital in England, is among those who believe that the mask, if well used, offers protection.
“Do you know what we are fighting for? For our lives. I am speaking on a personal experience now. My sister died with this disease, and she contracted it in hospital. The hospital is not to blame; it becomes the epicentre of the disease”.
Dr Portelli believes that disposable masks serve as a shield against disease spreading, if they are well used.
“You have to look at it as if you have a tissue on your mouth all the time. When the tissue gets wet, you throw it away. It is the same with the mask. It is disposable. If the mask gets wet, you throw it away and wear another one. The mask is used only by one person who does not give it to another person. If an infected person wears it, he does this to avoid infecting others. The most infected persons were doctors who work close to the patient’s face”.
Health authorities in Malta maintain that, although they are considering everything, they are following the WHO recommendation on the use of masks. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne replied to questions on masks during this morning’s press conference.
“Persons who are in contact with infected persons wear the mask to protect themselves….however there are situations where one wears the mask in order not to spread the virus himself. That is you have the virus and wear the mask to protect others….In Malta, we have not yet arrived at this stage where a directive is issued to wear masks because of the large quantity of people in the community”.
With or without the mask, the health authorities’ recommendations, including social distancing and frequent washing of hands are necessary both for those who wear a mask and for the rest.