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Six months of mask-wearing in Maharashtra

Mask-wearing in KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - FEBRUARY 22, 2020 : People wearing face mask to prevent infection of virus at Bukit Bintang. Bukit Bintang is a famous tourist attraction place. Image credit: Abdul Razak Latif / 123rf
Scenes from the COVID-19 outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Use of personal protective equipment such as face masks is becoming increasingly common as the outbreak of the virus continues. In Maharashtra, it is likely to continue for the next six months. Image credit: Abdul Razak Latif / 123rf

Mask-wearing is among the simplest and most effective means to protect oneself and others from COVID-19. In Maharashtra, the practice ought to be followed for the next six months.

On Sunday, the state’s chief minister Uddhav Thackeray urged the state’s citizens to wear face coverings in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 – the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or, simply, coronavirus. The state, hard-hit by COVID-19, is “still at a risky stage” according to the Chief Minister. 

Addressing citizens, he said “the vaccine is yet to come. But, in my opinion, it will be mandatory to wear a mask at least for the next six months.” Thackeray outlined that “some experts have suggested that I impose the night curfew or lockdown ahead of the New Year. The night curfew or lockdown can be imposed by the law, but I don’t think it is required. Because we have learnt what to do from past experiences. The threat of the virus is not yet over. About seventy to 75 percent [of] people are following all the measures but the remaining 25 percent should also follow them for the sake of their families and the society.” 

As such, Thackeray has exhorted the state’s citizens to follow the practice of mask-wearing for the next six months. “Prevention is better than cure,” he argued. 

Even as India ramps up efforts to incoulate its citizens against SARS-CoV-2, mask-wearing is likely to still be needed. “COVID-appropriate behaviour shouldn’t stop and it is independent of the vaccine,” Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state government’s COVID-19 taskforce and advisor to its vaccination campaign, said recently. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed similar sentiments, stating “there should be no carelessness in following COVID prevention measures.” The Supreme Court too has weighed in on preventative measures as mask-wearing. 

As previously reported by Health Issues India, “the reason why you need to continue wearing a face covering even after being vaccinated is because immunisation consists of two shots, spaced several weeks apart. In the case of the Pfizer vaccine, the doses are administered three weeks apart; in the case of Moderna’s vaccine, the gap is four weeks. Additionally, the effects are not immediate and a person could still contract the disease and infect others in the timeframe between receiving the first dose and the second.” 

As such, even with immunisation, mask-wearing is likely to be a staple of public life for the immediate future. Mask-wearing may be an inconvenience, but it is a necessary one. 

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