Earlier this week, I saw one of the best vivid illustrations, perhaps more of a warning, directed at complacency with Covid-19 protocols, particularly the wearing of face masks. 

The illustration explained in graphic detail what it means to be on a ventilator. It had a picture to depict how instruments are inserted down a patient’s throat to aid breathing and stays there for weeks. The patient apparently becomes more or less like someone in an artificial coma as he or she lies in bed unable to do anything. I felt numbed.

In effect, the illustration gives one a mental picture of the painful consequence when COVID-19 disease ends one up on a ventilator. Yet, same could be avoided should one heed to the call to simply wear a face mask in public spaces to curb transmitting the virus. I hope that the communication makes more rounds and the intended message seeps down effectively.

Two public events over the last couple of weeks and what pertains in our markets raise questions about the deep understanding of some section of the populace about this deadly coronavirus and why the plea for one to wear a mask. Even after passing a law making non-wearing of face masks in public spaces an offence, the lawlessness continues as some are still bent on defying the law and endangering others’ lives in the process. 

Personal safety measures

A reflection on some personal safety measures hinging on public health over the years puts this face mask defiance in perspective. We are simply a people averse to change and so the harder the heart, the more closed the mind. It does not matter if the change is to help save lives. 

A few years back when commercial motorcycles entered our space, much education went on with the wearing of helmets by motorcyclists and their passengers. The police embarked on tireless swoops to arrest offenders.  Unfortunately, all that came to nought. Yet helmets are designed to save many riders from fatal head injuries in case of crashes. 

Then entered the campaign for the use of seat belts in vehicles, as a safety precaution for drivers and passengers when on the road. The pressure was on commercial drivers to get seat belts fitted in their vehicles. There was intense public education with graphic videos on the impact of no seat belt in times of road accidents. Today, all that education is water under the bridge.

Smoking in public places campaign also came around after health alerts that non-smokers were at danger of inhaling smoke from smokers. Today, not even the warning of lung cancer sounds deterrent enough to these smokers whose addiction blinds them from seeing the danger they pose to others.

Public safety caution

So what is it about these public safety cautions that some recalcitrant individuals continue to defy?  Today, we are talking about the wearing of face masks and or shields to stop the spread of coronavirus but this too has become a thorn in the flesh.  In the markets, on the streets, people are still walking around with no masks on despite the increase in case counts and the reports of new surges of the disease in some parts of the world.

Of course, wearing a mask is not the most comfortable thing, especially for a longer period. However, we should all bear in mind that with the kind of virus before us, personal comforts or liberties do not come into the equation. It is not even something to stop and give a thought to. It must come automatically as part and parcel of our everyday dressing when stepping out of the house. 

Thankfully, a lot of recovered COVID-19 patients, home and abroad, are coming out on social media to share their experiences either in the isolation units or hospital beds. Their stories should be lessons to all as one commits to strict protocols to save ourselves and others from needless infection.

We do not have a choice. We do not have the luxury of saying we are sorry and going back to start afresh. The virus is too slippery and bent on causing havoc. The time to wear the face mask in all public places has come. The only option for those who think it is an imposition on their personal liberties is for them to stay at home. That is even a far better option, going forward.

You can reach the writer via email: vickywirekoandoh@yahoo.com