TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK!

A FASHION PARADE OF MASKS: Thanks to Covid-19 pandemic fears and safety protocols a plethora of mask may be seen these years….. but the dilemma is to wear mask or not to wear mask … when to wear and when to discard…

BY TARA NARAYAN

EVER since the corona virus of Chinese fame and fortune entered our lives we’ve been hounded by dire messages of what will happen if we flout the Covid-19 rules! It’s one long story of keep washing your hands with soap and water or else, wear a mask and not a flimsy fancy one but a good three-layered mask which pinches and perches atop your nose firmly…or else. Make sure your mask stays firmly over nose and mouth and doesn’t slip down your neck like a hangman’s noose!

Ever since masks took over life around the clock I’ve been witness to all the hypocritical dance of masks we play…early in the morning when I ride out on my faithful battered two-wheeler and the wintry morning sunshine is whispering down to give me a hug, I say off with my mask. Arriving at Panaji market to do my shopping I quickly slip back my mask for all the gauti veggie vendors are wearing their masks of different descriptions, color and style – I notice masks in various situations of slipping off when some bargaining for methi bhaji or the first baby green mangoes of the season is under way. Rs50 for five drumsticks means exactly Rs50 don’t bargain to get them at Rs5 or even Rs10 per drumstick!

But this is about masks, to wear or not to wear. Personally, I think it is my immune system strong or a drag which is keeping me alive and kicking and not any mask as cheap as Rs10 or as expensive as Rs400. With Covid-19 a veritable sale of masks is underway everywhere with entrepreneurial skills making a kill on Facebook and other online sites; every small grocery outlet has masks on sale, the chemist’s shops sticks to basic icy blue and white surgical masks to use and dispose daily…disposed masks scurry down the roads to mingle with the crinkly blossoms of the copperpods in bloom!

Cutting down to all this chase of trivia I’ve been asking myself does wearing a mask really save me from the now Ravan-styled 1,000 headed dreaded virus in successive variants? At Café Bhonsale, utterly mask0less, ruminating over a tall glass of tea, Prof Joe D’Souza, answered my query gently, “No need to wear a mask, my dear.” Dirty masks in our weather are more likely to aggravate our respiratory infections, he says. In one of his write-ups in a local daily he explains that microbes are host specific and the diseases of the respiratory tract, alimentary canal and the skin found in human beings like pneumonia, typhoid or leprosy, do not surface in animals  as diseases in animals have different microbial pathogens and treatment. However, anthrax, brucellosis and the varieties of zoonotic diseases transmitted to man by birds, bats, monkeys and other domesticated and wild animals has changed our perception.

However, it’s a fact that we haven’t seen viral particles in the atmosphere and scientifically confirmed its morphology structure and biochemistry. The protection standards imposed like social distancing, wearing  of masks, artificial immunity boosters promoted commercially, use of ventilators and promoted plasma therapies have done more harm, says Prof Joe D’Souza who is a retired University professor and an environment activist.  In tropical Goa and places where humidity rules at large wearing masks and social distancing has acute debilitating effects.

Our atmosphere is unlike that in temperate countries like the those of Europe, USA, Canada, where there is scant oxygen and rich in moisture, carbon dioxide and vehicular pollutants. The lack of oxygen, high CO2 pressure and bio-fouling on masks of virulent pneumococci and respiratory pathogens not only increased secondary infections of skin, lungs and throat but affected the immune compromised subjects due to continuous use of masks, patients are easy targets of nosocomial infections or hospital borne diseases whereby Covid-19 happened to be prime target.

Furthermore staying indoors not only made our people physically compromised but mentally depressed and with hormonal imbalances there are increased suicidal, criminal and physiological disorders — which are the bane of faulty SOP enforced by governments in our country. Prof Joe referred me to Dr Yeadon, an allergy and respiratory therapeutic area expert, who is quoted saying that masks are utterly useless in preventing airborne respiratory viral infections and he also provides scientific evidence to back it up.

In fact mask manufacturer #M say they don’t offer masks for children in some countries as they are designed for adults and that the misuse of a mask can result in illness or death in children. Available data indicates a very probably and unacceptable risk especially for children and young adults. A strict ban on masks for children and adolescents is therefore indicated. However, WHO and UNICEF advise children aged 12 and over to wear a mask and in particular when at least a 1-meter distance from others cannot be guaranteed in areas of widespread transmission.

And so it goes the dilemma of when to wear a mask and when it is okay to slip it off! In the meantime you notice how the wearing of a mask has become a fashion statement with many investing in their own personalized masks to match them with their outfits for the day! There are lacy masks, embroidered masks, highly scientific masks, plain pastel or hideously dark masks, printed masks, and some happy to sport only pristine white washable cotton masks – like me! It is easy to make out when white turns to not so white. Most often in a hurry to escape outdoors I forget to pick up a mask from home and am forced to buy another new one from the nearest mangy collection dangling at grocery shops or chemist outlets, so that I may have one with me at all times in crowded and not so crowded places when on an errand.

Friends with sewing machines are tailoring their own personal brand of masks and offering them around freely to relatives and friends in fits of generosity! Not all masks offer a perfect fit of course. There is indeed, good income in making attractive masks to attract attention. This is to say have fun with wearing or not wearing masks until the coast is clear of corona virus and someone up there says we may make a bonfire of all our masks. Until then it is avjo, poiterem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

–Mme Butterfly

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