Zimbabwe: Masking-Up Still a Critical Practice

Takudzwa Chihambakwe — A total of 3094 people had died due to Covid19 in Zimbabwe as of July 25.

It is devastating and things could get worse if people continue with the current levels of complacency in the implementation of regulations that have been put in place by the Government.

The vaccination roll out programme is progressing well countrywide, but with

some resistance from citizens who feel they are better off without the jab.

However, the majority of cases that have emerged in recent weeks show that most affected people are those who have not been vaccinated.

As the fight continues, and the Government works round the clock to purchase more vaccines, there is something that citizens can do to curb the spread of the virus and that is to simply mask-up.

Majority of Zimbabweans now have masks, but it appears a greater portion are getting tired of wearing them.

But with the deadly delta variant, which has proven to be problematic globally, now dominating most cases in the country, 80 percent to be precise, masking-up should be a priority for all.

"Wearing masks is very critical. By wearing a mask one limits their chance of contracting the virus," said World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Alex Gasasira.

"If one is infected and is wearing a mask the chances of them spreading it to the next person is reduced. If the other person is also wearing a mask the chances are further reduced.

"Masks are a critical measure that we all need to abide with at this time," he added.

Some say masks are now irritating but is it not better to be annoyed whilst living than to cut short your life due to stubbornness?

While responding to questions from journalists during a virtual press

conference last month, WHO Assistant Director-General, Dr Mariângela Simão, warned communities about the importance of wearing masks.

"... vaccines alone won't stop the community transmission and we need to ensure that people follow the public health measures. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, the physical distance, avoid crowding," said Dr Mariângela Simão.

In a recently published study by the Pandemic Action Network, it has been proven that wearing masks still matters

18 months after the pandemic broke out.

The study shows that masks cut down on COVID-19 deaths.

". . . mask use is a significant protective measure against contagion from infected people who are yet to develop symptoms or don't show any symptoms, and hence are unaware that they may spread the disease.

"An increasing number of studies have found that mandatory mask wearing policies have been associated with reductions in the number or rate of

infections and deaths. The WHO continues to recommend mask-wearing even for fully-vaccinated individuals, in particular given the emergence of highly transmissible variants such as the Delta variant," reads an excerpt from the study.

The study also reveals that while vaccines are effective at preventing disease, especially severe illness and death as well as reducing the risk of people spreading the virus, they do not confer 100 percent immunity and fully-vaccinated people can still get COVID-19.

"Masks fill in the gaps left by vaccines. Lifting the mandatory mask mandate at this stage of the pandemic when community transmission is still high will leave clinically-vulnerable people and those not yet vaccinated -- as of July 5, 2021, only 11.5 percent of the world population had been fully vaccinated -- at the mercy of others' goodwill or having to avoid crowded spaces and to only travel on public transport at quieter times of the day," further read the study.

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