Health and Fitness

It's Finally Settled: The IATF Says Face Masks Are Now Mandatory in Public

The confusion is over (or so we hope).
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Face masks, perhaps, have been the biggest topic of debate with the emergence of COVID-19. The entire back-and-forth conversation is often based on whether regular surgical masks could protect against the virus. And even until now, there's still no concrete answer.

In fact, the closest thing we have is the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' latest announcement that face masks are now mandatory in public. According to cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles, face masks, handkerchiefs, or anything related including reusable or do-it-yourself masks are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

That should settle things, right? If blindly going along doesn't quite sit right with you, then come join us for a little investigation on what experts and scientists are saying around the world.

Early on, several "experts" deemed surgical masks basically useless against coronavirus. While that certainly isn't true, face masks alone are insufficient when it comes to COVID-19. It's precisely why health workers and frontliners take every precaution with multiple layers of protective equipment.

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As per the World Health Organization (WHO), "if masks are to be used, this measure must be combined with hand hygiene and other [infection prevention and control] measures to prevent the human-to-human transmission of [COVID-19]."

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Clearly, masks can't prevent transmission through eyes, as well as viral particles. But they at least stand a chance against droplets which are the main transmission route of the virus.

The confusion comes in with the WHO's piece of advice that masks should only be worn when you exhibit symptoms. Since an estimated 25 to 50 percent of people that have coronavirus are asymptomatic, it's incredibly flawed logic. There is also the fact that medical supplies are low, and face masks—be it surgical masks or N95s—are better off with health workers and frontliners.

So, yes that face mask could protect you and even those around you from COVID-19. But remember to limit movement because any kind of medical equipment is as good as gold right now.

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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