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Let's put on a mask - even a homemade one - to protect everybody!

The Swiss authorities have, so far, dealt with the coronavirus crisis in a very efficient and reasonable way. They have made me happy and proud to be a Swiss citizen!

However, they haven’t yet recommended that the public wear face masks…

The reasons for not recommending a mask are:

-       Wearing a surgical mask may impact stocks needed for health professionals

-       Wearing a surgical mask may lead people to disregard social distancing recommendations due to a false sense of security

-       Wearing a surgical mask may result in people touching their faces more to readjust their mask

But what are face masks good for in the midst of a pandemic? Regardless of how efficient a mask is at filtering microparticles, masks of all types still serve the purpose of stopping the projection of saliva droplets that happens whenever we sneeze, cough or even speak. So, when we wear a face mask, we mainly protect others. Several studies have shown that wearing a homemade face mask, although not nearly as useful as a surgical one, is definitely better that not wearing anything!

The thing about face masks is that they only work when everybody wears one, in addition to social distancing and regular hand washing.

The individualistic thinking of wearing a face mask to protect oneself must give way to more collective thinking: “I wear a mask to protect others, and others wear a mask to protect me.”

In conclusion:

-       To avoid a shortage of masks for the health system, let’s make our own! There are dozens of tutorials on the internet, and anyone with a sewing machine can make a mask. If you don’t have a sewing machine, use a scarf or any piece of clothing - something is better than nothing. Ensure that your nose is covered and let’s not forget to wash our masks frequently.

-       For this to work, we also have to observe the other rules: a minimum of two metres distance from others, frequent hand washing and refraining from touching your face.

The transmission risk will not magically disappear as soon as confinement and social distancing measures are lifted: wearing a mask, perhaps for quite some months, will be crucial to avoid a second wave.

So let’s wear a mask! Let’s make our own! Let’s get to work !

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