Face-mask debate rolls on

| 02/04/2020 | 33 Comments
Cayman News Service
Homemade face-mask by Deaconess

(CNS): Almost three weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Cayman Islands, officials have begun discussing the pros and cons of wearing face-masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus. As is the case around the world, there remains some debate about their effectiveness because they give very little protection to wearers but can help to protect others from the person using a mask if they are infected.

The use of masks is still hotly debated because the protection they offer is very limited. Unless everyone wears a clean and effective mask, wears it properly and doesn’t keep touching and moving it, they will do little to contain the spread of this virus.

Speaking at Wednesday’s COVID-19 press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee warned people that wearing a mask will not offer the user very much protection. Using the analogy of being in a cold climate, he said the most important protection was a coat, which in COVID-19 terms is staying at home; using a mask is like wearing a scarf — not much help without the coat.

While masks can act as a physical barrier to stop some droplet spread of coronavirus in public spaces, the level of protection cannot be guaranteed. “Social distancing and thorough attention to hygiene must continue to be practiced as the best form of defence,” said Dr Lee.

Nevertheless, the idea of mask wearing is taking hold in the community. But with a world wide shortage and the greatest need being hospital and front-line emergency workers, people have begun making their own.

Officials warned that homemade masks are not medical devices and not regulated, so they pose a number of limitations and may not provide any protection against virus-sized particles. The masks probably do not form a seal around the nose and mouth and can be difficult to breathe through.

If you have to keep frequently adjusting them, this increases the amount of times your hands come into contact with your face and the probability of infection.

Regardless of the warnings and even dangers posed by homemade masks, and contradicting medical professionals, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour gave his backing to wearing homemade masks.

In a press release, he said homemade masks can be used in public spaces to reduce the potential for droplet spread, though he asked people to remain considerate of the current global shortage of medical grade masks.

See WHO page on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks

See here for instructions on how to make a face-mask

Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands Red Cross searching for people who can sew from home and create a supply for front-line workers via #CayMask, a social media mask-making campaign.

Email vrm@redcross.org.ky or visit the CI Red Cross Facebook page

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I hope next year’s Royal honours list reflects the names of those tireless unsung heroes putting themselves at risk on the frontlines; those without political connection, those cottage heroes manufacturing masks, those donating generously of their time, energy, and capital, and otherwise rising to the challenge during this crisis. Those are the real heroes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Even Dr. Fauci now says wear a mask when out
    Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning.
    “Because of that and because of some recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing, the better part of valor is that when you’re out and you can’t maintain that six-foot distance to wear some sort of facial covering … So this is an addendum and an addition to the physical separation, not as a substitute for it.”

  3. Anonymous says:

    The best advice emerging all over the planet is: “Wear a mask if you have any symptoms or if you leave your household or if have to interact with people from outside your household.”

    The CDC Director gave an interview 2 days ago to NPR in the US saying that evidence is rapidly mounting that the virus can be aerosolysed just be infected people breathing and that up to 25% of Covid-19 transmission may be caused by asymptomatic persons.


    The CDC also published this paper on Wednesday that confirms asymptomatic transmission


    Stay home, practice social distancing and wear a mask, save lives.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Be interesting to know which Supermarkets staff gets sick first. Sad to say.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Face-masks might be important because some experts are now saying that COVID-19 is airborne.

    • Anonymous says:

      Like Jon Jon?

    • Anonymous says:

      If measles, at double the nm size and weight, can remain airborne for hours, it would seem reasonable to assume COVID-19 could also stay airborne for a period of time.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Q. Why are frontline workers scrambling to get masks if “they don’t protect wearer”? Obviously they do, or they wouldn’t bother?!

  7. Andrew says:

    At the pharmacy in governors square they’re selling one mask for 20$. Online they’re not being offered to the public. Anywhere else on island is sold old. Best we can do is YouTube homemade mask and homemade hand sanitizer and do our best with what we have.

    • Anonymous says:

      I bought an N95 mask from Valu Med Smith Road today for $18. It can be reused for a week and I reckon I can stretch that by spraying it with sanitiser every time I get home. Surgical masks are much cheaper ($2), but can only be used once and there is a purchase limit of 2. Call the pharmacy, they will meet you outside and take your cash/card, no waiting in line.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone experienced the “Corona Glare” as yet? This social statement is delivered by a serious mask-wearing individual (the masks with that funny bit on the front give the best theatric effect) and they look at you as though are a disease-carrying scumbag because you don’t wear a mask like them.
        I love it when they roll their eyes behind the mask. They look like my old teddy bear when I used to shake it.
        You know who you are.

    • Andrew says:

      BTW, the masks retail for 13$ USD…for a pack of 20 masks. Price gouging at its finest. I believe we should all be wearing masks, there is evidence supporting the fact that the virus is airborne. I understand that they don’t want people buying up the mask, limiting the supply to the healthcare workers, but in my honest opinion it’s better safe than sorry. In February it was stated by the W.H.O. that there is no evidence supporting that the virus can be transmitted person to person. Obviously you can see where we’re at now at this point. Before they say “After months of research, we can confirm the virus is airborne” I say skip the line of the misinformed, wear a mask.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well maybe the Premier should come out and embarrass the shops who are ripping people off when there is a health crisis going on.

  8. Done reach says:

    But they had government officials, telling the front line staff at the Airport, o don’t wear mask because they will friting the tourist,,that was coming in during the out break,,and what are they saying now ,wear all the maskes you can , and they are bosses, o my lord please pray for them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have heard the Health Minister contradicting the Chief Medical Officer and the Premier. Going forward I think he should really refrain from commenting on the medical issues concerning this virus and please leave it to the professionals. Stop giving out misleading information which is causing confusion to some and could well jeopardize the health of all residents.

  10. COVIDilator says:

    Yeah, my rig is a lot to carry right now. it’s a solar-powered, HEPA vacuum supplied, positive pressure, ventilator full body suit macthingy

  11. Anonymous says:

    I refuse to understand why anyone needs governmental approval for wearing a face mask.

    • Anonymous says:

      No you don’t need governmental approval, you can go ahead and wear the mask just don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are safe. If someone sneezes or cough near you the droplets can still get on you and your clothes. Your nose and mouth would be covered but the droplets
      can sometimes penetrate the mask depending on the quality as well as dropping on your hair, your arms, your clothes etc. if everyone wears the mask it would make a lot of difference but even then as I said before the droplets can penetrate the face mask. Personally I believe the best thing is to practice social distancing of 2 meters when out and Stay Home as much as possible. keep yourself safe my friend.

    • Cayman Mon says:

      Wear your face mask or use a scarf. Follow government guidelines and practice social distancing. Stay Home Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hard to do when supermarkets -HEY WOODY- don’t deliver. We know kirks and Hurley’s do but good luck trying to get anything in more than a week.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      Exactly right. I guarantee anyone within five feet of a coughing person would put one on in a heartbeat. If the mask is clean, it can do no harm. Wear it if you want. Some people wear gloves mostly to remind themselves of all the surfaces they touch.

      PPE is the new cultural way to indicate that you are being careful. Draw stuff on your masks. Make them you and unique. Fun for the whole family.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wearing a mask will not harm you or anyone else around you. If it just makes you feel better wear it and stop worrying about what anyone else has to say about it.You do realize that about half of the human population is not that smart but likes to talk.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, if wearing the mask leads to bad hand/face sanitation and reduced social distancing the mask will harm you. That’s the fear. Despite ‘a billion’ people wearing masks in the far east there is no evidence that it reduces community transmission. Certain masks work in certain scenarios. Walking around Cayman with a scarf … Stay Home.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m afraid a lot of people are going to run off half-cocked on this and do more harm (self-infection due to relaxed vigilance) than good (reduce infections to others). CIG needs to organise a more coordinated position. Its probably too late to push the home-makers horse back in the barn but at least put out some guidance on what a proper home-made mask is (before the Carnival bands start making masks) and how you use it properly (proper sanitation, etc.).

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