To Mask or not to Mask for COVID19



Would you wear a mask if you head out today?



The debate to wear or not to wear a mask is heating up. There are 2 schools of thoughts. The first one advocates wearing a mask if you are unwell, the second advocates wearing a mask whenever you are out. With the number of cases shooting up from 100 to 1000 in a span of 1 month, the debate rekindles.



To Mask or Not?
During the early days of COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, wearing masks was recommended if you are unwell.  It had made sense given that community spread was not apparent and the number of cases was traceable and well under control.


In spite of the recommendation, many people queued up to get masks. As a result, masks were sold out in most places and the price of masks had increased from the early days.



No Mask Please, I am Singaporean
In the beginning, you could see some people masking up around malls, supermarkets and even a walk around the park. Today, even though we had breached 1000 cases, you would probably see only 1 out of 10 people with a mask on public places. This is somewhat surprising considering that masks were sold out islandwide at one stage and most household would have a stash of masks to use if needed.

Nonetheless, with local unlink transmission rising and the possibility that some asymptomatic carriers can be contagious, wearing a mask in the following scenarios might be a life-saving option.

Crowded Places and Public Transport
If you are heading to crowded places like malls or hawker centers, it might be wise to put a mask on. In addition, if you are taking public transport during peak hours, wearing a mask might be a wise choice to make.

The recent news of an SMRT bus drive testing positive for COVID19 would probably give riders a second thought on using masks on public transport,

Visiting a Doctor
Regardless of your symptoms, consider wearing a mask when you are at the doctor. Being in an enclosed room with other patients, you would never know if the latter has COVID-19

Front Line Staff
The fact that you are front line means that you would have interactions with many people throughout the day. Depending on your level of interactions, you might consider wearing a mask if necessary

Food handlers
It is not proven that COVID-19 can be transmitted via food. However, to prevent contamination on food preparation, it may be prudent for food handlers to wear a mask. Personally, I had a personal experience of getting food from a hawker store a few days where the assistance was coughing away, Although he was not involved in the food preparation, he was in charge of packaging the food and handling cash. It did not comfort me that he was not wearing a mask while packaging the food, especially when local unlink cases were rising.

This had also been highlighted in a recent news article.



No need to hoard masks either
Given the current situation. The advisory is to stay at home and only head out if necessary. If that is the case, you would probably head out less often, especially if you are working from home. With that being the case, there is no need to hoard masks and only get what is needed for your family.




More than just wearing mask

From the beginning of the outbreak, I had my personal views when it comes to wearing masks.

On Instagram posted 7 weeks ago, I thought to wear a mask at crowded areas make sense.  Today, I would probably wear it more on different occasion. However, wearing a mask on its own may not be the solution.


Wash your hands
Other than wearing masks, personal hygiene such as washing hands would be equally if not more imports. Wash your hands whenever you contact a foreign object outdoors (eg grocery shopping) just to be safe. Even if we do not come into contact with people, the virus does linger on the surface. We run the risk of infection if we had contact with mouth and eyes after touching the surface.

Do not touch your face even with a mask on
The virus can enter through eyes and mouth. Constant fidgeting will defeat the purpose of the mask

Avoid Crowded places
Given the current situation, it might make more sense to AVOID crowded places than to wear masks.

Stay at home
The safest option, stay at home and hunker down. It is the safest way to prevent infection and \to stop the spread.


As the numbers of cases continue to rise in Singapore and with the increase in unlink cases, I think it might be prudent to be more cautious.  As a disclaimer, I am NOT a medical expert on COVID-19. These are NOT recommendations by MOH. The recommendations have NOT been proven effective.



 At the end of the day, do what you think is right. At the minimum, wear a mask if you are unwell.

As the saying goes - It is better to be safe than sorry.







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