Masks are effective, Teddylee

Letters to the Editor

Masks are effective, Teddylee

Thursday, November 26, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Jamaica Observer reader Teddylee Gray has written a few times about the pandemic. He has described the response as “hysteria” and suggests that mask mandates are nonsense. He is either misinformed, misguided, or just very naive.

Masks do work. Masks ought not to be made into a political issue.

Gray does not hide his support for controversial US President Donald Trump, who is known to spread dangerous misinformation, including the use of bleach and disinfectant as treatment options. This virus affects all ages and types. To misinform is very disrespectful to those working tirelessly to lead the response to keep the public safe, as well as to the many health-care workers in facilities risking their lives to care for others.

Thousands of doctors and nurses have died globally. Trump does not believe in masks or science, which is ironic, because when he got infected with COVID-19 he was quick to rely on scientific therapy, medicine, and the care of a large team of medical doctors, which obviously led to a speedy recovery.

Masks along with social distancing and proper hygiene help to contain the outbreak. These are effective practices in many countries.

People are entitled to their opinions about the pandemic and masks, but it is irresponsible and selfish when they try to spread misinformation in the media. Gray has not shared his scientific training or background, yet he tries to dispute the findings and recommendations of countless scientists and experts around the globe, some of whom have worked for decades with various infectious diseases and pandemics.

In one letter Gray said that masks only offer 50 per cent protection. Even if this were correct, isn't 50 per cent a lot better than zero? There is a reason doctors, nurses, and dentists routinely wear masks in health-care facilities. No one knows for certain how much protection a mask offers. What we do know is that the infection rate and hospitalisation from the flu this year in places like Canada, where masks are widely worn, is reportedly down significantly.

We know that masks are only effective when more people wear them. It was initially suggested that masks help to limit the spread from the person wearing the mask. It is now widely believed that masks provide two-way protection. Close interaction between people of 15 minutes or more is said to have a greater risk of infection as multiple viral particles can be easily transmitted. This is why social distancing is important.

I, therefore, urge Jamaicans to do the right thing, follow protocols, and stay safe. Wear your masks, keep your distance, wash hands frequently. Do not get caught up in unhealthy propaganda based on political hype and unsubstantiated cult-like views.

P Chin

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