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As the 21-days lockdown enters final week, various questions are being asked about whether or not one should wear masks while stepping out.
Maharashtra has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country (1018). Taking in view the rising number of cases the municipal authorities announced on April 8 that wearing protective masks will be mandatory in Mumbai. Violators will face strict action and may even be arrested, an order said.
Wearing masks will be must at all public places, offices, meetings and even inside vehicles effective immediately.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued the order on a day that Mumbai reported 72 more coronavirus deaths and six fatalities.
"These masks may be standard mask available with the chemist or even homemade washable masks and can be reused after proper washing and disinfecting them," NDTV quoted Greater Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, who signed the order, as saying.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to the people to use masks while going out of their homes to buy basic necessities.
Any person who doesn't wear a mask when outdoors will be punished with a fine or even arrested failing to wear mask can now be levied a fine or even face arrest under section 188 Indian Penal Code (disobeying a regulation made under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
Chief Minister Thackeray, in his online address to the state, expressed his regret at the inconvenience because of the lockdown, but said, "We don't have any other option."
He also appealed to the former defence health services personnel, retired nurses and ward boys to join the "war" against coronavirus.
"Maharashtra needs you," the CM said and requested volunteers to send their contact numbers on the email ID email@example.com. "People should inculcate a habit of using homemade masks while stepping out of their homes to buy essentials now, and also later when the situation improves," he added.
Authorities in Chandigarh, Nagaland and Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, newly created Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have already made wearing masks compulsory.
"Wearing masks has been made compulsory in the state. There can be legal action also for not wearing masks," Hindustan Times quoted Uttar Pradesh, additional chief secretary Awanish Awasthi as saying.
An order issued by the General Administration Department (GAD), in Jammu and Kashmir, said that face masks had been made mandatory for all officers, staff and visitors in the civil secretariat as a preventive measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The Civil Secretariat is presently functional in Jammu as part of the bi-annual darbar move, under which the government functions six months each in Jammu and Srinagar during winter and summer months.
"Accordingly, all the administrative secretaries are authorised to effect the purchase of masks, so as to provide three reusable masks for each employee of his/her department in the civil secretariat. The expenditure on this account shall be defrayed from the office expenses (OE) head," additional secretary, GAD, Rohit Sharma was quoted as saying.
Leh's district magistrate Sachin Kumar Vaishya, in Ladakh, ordered the general public as well as government officials (both civilian and armed forces) to mandatorily wear the face masks at public places without any exception.
"In case of any violation, penal action under rules shall be taken against the violators. This shall come into force with effect from April 9," he stated in his order.
Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
A global debate about whether everyone should wear surgical masks in public has been brewing for quite some time. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only people who are showing symptoms or caring for coronavirus patients should wear them. But some countries have already made it mandatory.
According to a report by Guardian, experts say that medical-grade protective gear, such as N95 respirators, should be reserved for health workers.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on April 6 that they were reviewing their recommendations after new data showed nearly a quarter of those infected did not show symptoms, meaning they were infectious perhaps without realizing it.
Jeremy Howard, a distinguished research scientist at the University of San Francisco and founder of the #Masks4All campaign opined that the primary transmission [of coronavirus] is now known to be droplet-based and that transmission largely occurs in the first seven days after infection when people are largely asymptomatic.
Therefore even if we are highly infectious, we wouldn't know it. When we speak: that's when these microdroplets get ejected up to six feet.
While speaking, if you put a couple of layers of cotton or paper towel in front of your mouth, the droplets go into that and not into the face of the person you're speaking to.
That's is how the masks dramatically help reduce the spread of the virus. Howard further added that although there is some extra protection for the wearer, it is imperfect.
Wearing a mask is about protecting the community and asking your community to do the same for you.
Howard opined that the organizations were trying to protect frontline healthcare workers from running out of N95 respirators. The WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has recently signalled that the organization's stance may change.
"WHO continues to evaluate the potential use of masks more broadly to control COVID-19 transmission at the community level," Politico quoted the WHO chief as saying on April 8, adding that the evidence and the WHO advice is evolving along with the pandemic.
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