Medical Officer of Health for St. James, Dr. Marcia Johnson-Campbell, has emphasised that contrary to popular belief, wearing face masks as protection from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is not effective.
“The mask should only be used by persons who are ill. If it is that you are going to be interacting with somebody who is ill, then you use a mask. Outside of that, a mask is not going to help you, the only thing it really does is prevent you from touching your nose and your mouth,” Dr. Johnson-Campbell told JIS News.
She also pointed out that the improper use of masks by persons are common, noting that “if you have on a mask, it needs to be put on properly; it needs to be covering the entire nose and mouth, and you need to avoid touching the mask. You must also continue washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer”.
Dr. Johnson-Campbell also advised that masks are not to be worn for more than four hours at a time, and once the mask becomes damp or humid, then it needs to be removed and disposed of properly.
The Medical Officer also emphasised that the wearing of gloves provides a “false sense of security,” and the best alternative is for persons to just wash their hands regularly.
Meanwhile, Dr. Johnson-Campbell, while admitting that details about the illness are still emerging, said that from all indications, persons who are 60 years and older are considered more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
“As you get older, your immune system weakens and you are not able to fight off diseases and infections as the younger person. Also, older persons are more likely to have another health condition that prevents them from fighting off infections,” she added.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include acute onset of fever and flu-like symptoms, including coughing and sneezing, as well as breathing difficulties.
Dr. Johnson-Campbell advised that persons with respiratory illnesses must take extra precautions.
She noted that at this time, persons with asthma can differentiate their asthmatic symptoms from that of COVID-19, based on their travel history.
So far, there are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island.