There is a saying that goes “The road to HELL is paved with good intentions” and no sentence is more apt to describe the World Health Organization, the US Surgeon General and Philippine Department of Health pronouncements regarding the use of masks. In essence the so-called international medical experts as well as our local ones advocate the use of protective masks for health facility personnel (which is logical and necessary), for symptomatic patients (which is reasonable and helpful for the non-infected), for those at home taking care of sick patients as well the persons being nursed back to health.
Nobody will question those aforementioned guidelines. Scientific. Practical. Useful. In the end these measures should limit the spread of the disease and save lives.
Our issue is regarding the recommendations to the public to dispense with the use of masks.
The Lancet says “For example, the US Surgeon General advised against buying masks for use by healthy people. One important reason to discourage widespread use of face masks is to preserve limited supplies for professional use in health-care settings. Universal face mask use in the community has also been discouraged with the argument that face masks provide no effective protection against coronavirus infection.”
The World Health Organization says “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
The Philippine Department of Health keeps on saying that the use of masks in public settings is unnecessary and may even be counter-productive (since those wearing masks would touch their faces more often).
Oh my, Einstein once said that a hundred physicists shouting that he was wrong (regarding the theory of relativity) did not automatically mean he (Einstein) was wrong. In fact, if he was wrong, Einstein said a single physics major could just as easily proven him wrong. The more physicists ganged up on him simply meant that they were relying on their numbers to carry the day. As we all know by now, Einstein was right.
Fast forward to 2020 and we have all of these educated professionals telling the ordinary people not to wear masks. In an ideal world, where all the sick people would be wearing masks, then that would be okay. However, we live in an imperfect world. Sick people may be coughing all over the place. There is a stage in viral diseases wherein people could be infecting others at the same time that they have not yet experienced the signs and symptoms of the viral infection. There may also be those who know they need to wear masks because they are sick yet they have no available masks to wear. In the end, the responsibility of viral spread protection should not only be in the hands of those who are sick but rather INCLUDE the potential population that could get sick. In other words, the general public should be ENCOURAGED to wear masks when out in public as well as at home if there is any suspicion that a single person in the house may harbor some kind of throat or lung infection.
We agree with these D.OH. recommendations below.
DOH called on the public to be vigilant and practice personal preventive measures such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing, and cough etiquette.
DOH also called on people to refrain from visiting public places and/or attending mass gatherings.