Md Joynal Abedin Khan : Maximum people mainly villagers and low-income men are showing apathy for wearing mask as mandatory measure to curb the Covid-19 outbreak throughout country amid the second wave of coronavirus during winter season.
Their indifferent mentality for using masks is pushing threat for coronavirus spreading among the others in upcoming days, experts said.
Observing the unexpected situation, the high-ups of the government have issued necessary instructions, including conducting the mobile courts to curb the coronavirus outbreak that almost failed to impact on the villagers, non-educated men and low-income people, according to them.
Even there is no end to excuses people make for not wearing masks as some say they feel too hot, some say they forget and some say they left their masks at home as well as some say mask is extra burden, they mentioned. Meanwhile, public health experts have repeatedly maintained that till now there is no alternative to wearing masks in order to prevent transmission of coronavirus. The government too has adopted a ‘no mask, no service’ policy. But people are still very careless and negligent about wearing masks.
Government institutions are very strict about mask wearing. However, they do not take temperatures.
On 25 October, a decision was passed at a cabinet meeting to make it compulsory to wear masks in order to avail government and non-government services.
Sanitiser tunnels have been placed at two of New Market’s four gates in the city, but no one uses the tunnels. And the guards do not prevent anyone from entering without masks. Many people were seen without masks in the market. Many avoided questions in this regard. A shopper, Md Nayeem, said he had forgotten to wear a mask.
A shopper who had come with two children refused to talk. Another shopper, Fahima Khan, took a mask out of her bag and said, “I had forgotten to wear it.”
President of the New Markets traders association, Dewan Aminul Islam, said, “Many people come to the market and it’s hard to control everyone. We will have to stop people from entering the market without masks.”
He (rickshaw-puller Jamal) says he keeps his mask in his pocket and wears it when he sees the police coming along. Rickshaw-puller Monir Uddin said “You can’t stay long wearing a mask. It gets hot and you feel suffocated.” About the government orders in this regard, he says he keeps his mask in his pocket and wears it when he sees the police coming along.
A bus helper of a Khwaja Baba Paribhan bus, Md Hamid said, “You can’t call to passengers properly if you wear a mask. The passengers won’t hear you.” Many of the passengers in the bus too were without masks.
A driver of a Bikalpa Paribahan bus, Habibul Islam, said, “Many of the passengers don’t wear masks. What can be done?”
Arif Hosaain, a farmer in Rangpur said, “Coronavirus will never infect rural men by the bless of almighty. Masks using is unnecessary in rural areas.”
Former World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Advisor Muzaherul Huq said the mask is necessary to prevent coronavirus infection, but no one needs to wear it all time.
“We should know when and how the mask should be used. Masks have very little disadvantages, but we can minimise those if we know how to use those effectively,” he said.
He said a corona-infected patient should wear a mask only when he/she is supposed to come in contact with others. “When the patient is in isolation and no one is supposed to come to close proximity, he or she does not need to wear a mask.” President of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad Dr Iqbal Arsenal said masks can cause some irritation for the people who do exhaustive work and wear a thick mask for a long time. But this problem, he said, can be solved by removing the mask, going to a safer place for a while when they feel discomfort.
“Usually, health workers wear masks and other safety gears like gloves, goggles and PPEs and stay for a long time at their workplaces. If they can get used to it, people shouldn’t have any problem only wearing a mask. Most of the problems people mention about wearing masks are psychological,” he said.
He said, the masks prevent people from inhaling unchecked discharge of dust, dust particles and other polluted elements from the air which also help protect their respiratory tracts from various infections.
“Around 80 percent of people suffering from respiratory problems are caused by dust pollution. So, if people use masks regularly when they come out of home it can help prevent many diseases related to dust, air and environment pollution,” he added.
Professor Dr Mohammed Atiqur Rahman, a medicine specialist and Treasurer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said there is no other alternative to using masks when anyone gets exposed to other people within close proximity to contain corona infection.
“Masks have no big disadvantage, but people may feel uneasy using it for a long time since they still didn’t become used to it,” he observed.
Dhaka district additional deputy commissioner (general) Md Momin Uddin said that mobile courts led by 15 executive magistrates realized Tk 33,300 in fine from 100 people at different upazilas in the district and in the capital’s densely populated areas, including areas around the court and the secretariat, Matijheel, Hatirjheel and Azampur of Uttara.
He said that the mobile courts also created awareness about the use of masks with public announcement systems and distributed 1,600 face masks among the poor.
The Communicable Diseases (Prevention, Control and Eradication) Act 2018 which is hardly implemented has a provision for a maximum six-month jail term or Tk 100,000 fine or both for violating the health guidelines when any communicable disease is prevalent.