Given the current poor epidemiological situation in Slovenian society, appeals about not waring face masks and to completely ignore the threat posed by the new coronavirus are rising. Unfortunately, the people who deliberately ignore the danger are very loud, as they have the support of the majority media. Why? Because, the government is under the leadership of Janez Janša. If we were ruled by anyone else, and even if the measures were much harsher, the media would report that face masks are necessary and that the government is doing its best to stop the spread of the infectious disease COVID-19. But we do not live in these times, so the media criticise every decision of the government and downplay the importance of the measures. At the forefront, of course, is the public television which should be the first to warn people of the danger of the new disease.
In such an atmosphere, when media report that government measures are unnecessary and meaningless, it is no surprise that there is also doubt among people. Moreover, some have begun to argue that face masks are harmful, thereby reducing the immune system’s resistance etc. Some have even gone so far as to claim that masks destroy the brain because we breathe the exhaled carbon dioxide instead of fresh air.
The vast majority of profession claim that masks partially prevent the spread of the infection. The masks only help if they are worn by the infected. The problem of the new coronavirus is that the infection can also be transmitted by asymptomatic patients and those who show symptoms of other respiratory illnesses but actually have COVID-19. In laymen terms, we cannot know who has COVID and who does not. Therefore, it is recommended that we all wear masks, as this protects others from possible infection. Those who do not wear masks out of the principle endanger everyone around them. And those of us who wear masks are endangered by those who do not want to wear masks for any reason.
Let’s look at some criticisms. Masks reduce resistance. It’s true that in some way the bacilli and viruses we otherwise inhale strengthen our immune system. The problem with the new coronavirus is that our immune system in most cases has not developed safeguards to resist this virus. Thus, if we do not wear a mask, the likelihood of being more resistant to the virus is zero. If the organism suits the virus, the patient will develop the disease and in the worst case scenario die. As far as the organism does not suit the virus, it will disappear or the person will survive the disease with mild symptoms. The mask does not play any role.
The next criticism is that the masks poison the brain and reduce brain capacity. To put it jokingly, for those who do not want to wear masks this opportunity has already passed, as their brain capacity is apparently already low enough. However, with all seriousness, healthcare workers, dentists, nurses, and surgeons should be remembered. They have been wearing masks for decades for exactly the same reason we need to wear them today. That they do not unnecessarily infect the patient. None of them are particularly brain deprived. Moreover, Asians have been wearing masks for decades and according to the research have the highest IQ on the planet. Thus, masks more than obviously do not affect brain damage.
The dumbest complaint, however, is the obstructed breathing. It is normal that breathing is a bit harder if you have a mask over your mouth and nose. But in light of possible death this is the least we can do for a fellow human being. Many workers in chemical plants have to wear masks that completely cover their nose and mouth all day, and none of them claim that asbestos does not exist. Or that without a mask they will become more resistant to sulphur. And the same is true today with this pandemic.
Masks are a reflection of our humanity. We wear them mainly so as to not infect loved ones, co-workers, and friends. To not infect those who shop with us in the same mall. To not infect those who sit with us at Mass. Masks are especially effective in protecting others.
So if we all wear masks we are all more or less safe. If 99 people wear masks and one asymptomatic patient does not, only that patient is safe, and the remaining 99 people may be exposed to the virus. If the masks protected ourselves, everyone would wear them. However, because they protect others, a minority can rely on conspiracy theories and how masks will destroy their brain. Yes, masks certainly do not possess any healing properties, but neither are they harmful. In this situation, however, they are definitely helpful. Therefore, masks up and virus down!