Right Time to Unmask? Experts on When & Where You Should Continue to Wear Masks
Experts feel that people should continue to wear masks to protect themselves. Here's why.
The Quint DAILY
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Maharashtra, Delhi, Telangana, have announced the relaxation of the mask mandate – which required people to wear a face mask in public spaces – to curb the spread of COVID-19.
This comes at a time when there is a steady decline of COVID-19 cases in India.
With pandemic curbs starting to be removed across India, experts feel that people should continue to wear masks to protect themselves. Where should you still continue to wear masks?
Here's all you need to know.
Is this the right time to unmask?
Experts say that now may not be the best time to issue unmasking guidelines, as COVID-19 pandemic is very much prevalent. Countries including UK, Germany, Korea, and China, are witnessing a resurgence of cases.
Not following COVID protocols, like maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, would significantly increase the risk of catching the infection.
"The decision to remove the mask mandate has been taken by the government. But as a scientist, I want to add that wearing masks has been the most effective way of containing COVID-19 infections. As doctors, we have entered numerous ICUs with infected persons over the last two years, and it is the mask that has kept us protected. Unless the disease burden of the entire world, in terms of COVID-19 comes down, it is very much advisable to keep the masks on," said Dr Rahul Pandit, who is a Maharashtra COVID taskforce member, to The Quint.
Meanwhile, Dr R Subhash Salunkhe, member of the national COVID-19 taskforce, said that it is "definitely, definitely" required for people to continue wearing masks, as it is one of the ways that guarantees against the spread of COVID-19. He added that the decision to remove the mask mandate now is a "pre-mature" one.
Who should continue to wear masks?
Immunocompromised people, and those who live with people who have co-morbidities, it is advisable to wear masks
Masks are also important for those who are not vaccinated, or for people in the presence of those who are unvaccinated
This is not to say that others should not wear masks, but the failure to wear one is likely to put these groups at more risk, Dr Salunkhe added.
Should I mask outdoors?
This depends on what kind of outdoors. If you are out walking/exercising or if you are outdoors in a space that is not crowded, then removing your mask is safe.
However, if you are outdoors in a crowded market area, wearing masks is very much recommended, say experts.
"When you go for a morning walk, it is relatively safer to remove your mask. But when you are buying groceries in an outdoor market, being mask-less increases the chances of contracting coronavirus," Dr Subash Salunke told The Quint.
I am not immunocompromised. Are there places I should still be wearing masks?
"Any indoor public place with air conditioner would ideally require you to wear a mask – including malls and cinema halls. It is also advisable to wear masks in crowded office spaces," said Dr Rahul Pandit.
Many establishments, malls, shopping complexes, movie halls, may also come up with their own rule regarding the mask mandate.
What happens in public transport?
Again, as per rules, one is not required to mandatorily wear masks in cities like Mumbai and Delhi for now.
However, experts stress on caution, adding that wearing masks in crowded buses, metros or local trains, will reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus.
Should I wear a mask on a flight?
As of now, it is mandatory to wear masks on the flight, as per guidelines issued by various airlines. Stay tuned to this space for further updates on this.
I have COVID-19 symptoms. Should I mask up?
Yes, you must. Apart from wearing a mask, those who have symptoms should also practice social distancing and hand hygiene.
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