Viral stop face mask France
Image Credit: AFP

Masks, I keep them everywhere. I just don’t want to be caught without one. So I have spare ones in my bag, in the glove compartment of my car, and at my office desk. It’s become an essential part of my attire. Our attire. In a world ravaged by COVID-19, it’s an accessory that helps keep us safe.

Who’d have thought that we would spend a year in masks? From March, most of us have been wearing facemasks to keep out the new coronavirus. You can’t leave your house without a mask, and no establishment — business or leisure — will permit entry if you aren’t wearing a mask.

I feel safe when everyone around me is in masks. It protects the wearers and the people around them from catching viruses floating in the air. So I feel responsible for the health of others. Most people understand it. But some don’t. That’s a tiny minority. They too wear masks but wear it as a requirement to be met. That’s the danger.

How to wear a mask

A mask on the face just covering the mouth won’t keep out the virus. Why’s it necessary to cover the nose? Because COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, and the coronavirus tip-toes into the body through the nose. Keep the nose and mouth covered, and you reduce the chances of catching SARS-CoV_2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Not just that. A mask prevents you from touching the nose. It decreases the chances of transferring germs from your hands to the nose. You’d be surprised how many times a person touches the nose. If you don’t believe me, watch the person next to you for a minute. Some pinch the nose, some scratch it, some others dig into it, some men preen their moustache brushing the nostrils on the way. Every action increases the chances of transferring pathogens through the nose. So there’s every reason to keep your nose covered with a mask.

Well, it fogs my spectacles. That’s something I have learned to live with. But it doesn’t happen always. A doctor friend suggested slipping a folded paper napkin between the mask and the bridge of the nose. Apparently, some surgeons do it. I tried, it didn’t work for me, and I gave up. Since it doesn’t happen often, I’m not worried.

A year of COVID-19 has brought down the prices of masks. They are very cheap now. But I make sure to pick those with three layers. Or else, they are useless. The single-layered cloth one may look good, but their effectivity is much less. And the ones with the vents: it protects the wearer, but not the ones around them.

more from the writer

Masks have become a fashion accessory. Check out Nancy Pelosi’s masks. On every occasion, the US House Speaker wears a different one. And they are all elegant and colourful.

Head out to the malls in the UAE, and you will find little kiosks selling fancy masks. It’s become a bestseller, replacing the mobile covers. You find very ornate ones, glittering ones and stylish ones. Then there are the designer masks; all major brands have clambered aboard the mask bandwagon.

Never mind what mask you buy, but make sure it’s a three-layered one. And if you are travelling, or have to be in an enclosed space for an extended period, the N95 mask is advisable. So buy one when you book your flight ticket.

I use a three-layered mask. It’s cheap. So I can throw it away without feeling guilty.

Most superheroes wear masks. You can be a hero too, by protecting yourself and others. Don’t forget to pull it over your nose.