By Prof. (Dr.) S.C.MOHANTY
COVID-19 pandemic claimed more than 4lakhs lives in India till date. As there is no definite treatment for the virus and the virus is going through multiple changes from its first appearance in 2019, preventive strategies play a definitive role to tide over the crisis. A number of preventive strategies have been advocated by international agencies such as World Health Organization (W.H.O), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and implemented from time to time in many
countries of the world.
Preventive measures include various protective items such as the use of masks, personal protective equipment, frequent hand washing, use of sanitizer and maintaining a distance of at least two metres. Few pharmacological agents have also been advocated.
Govt. of India is repeatedly sensitizing the people, almost daily regarding these preventive measures through various newspapers and electronic media. So far, India is concerned more than 60% people are living in villages and water scarcity is a regular phenomenon almost round the year. So frequent hand washing is quite impossible on the villagers’ part. Sanitizing products used by urban people are quite expensive.
Secondly, maintaining distance of two metres is almost impracticable without lockdown and shutdown. As people of India have a religious mindset, they celebrate lots of functions and festivals round the year. So, maintaining a required distance is quite impossible in various gatherings. Only the police force can do that. But, considering the vast population of India, even that seems unimaginable. So the only preventive measure is the use of mask by all people. Now after one and a half years of Covid, 40% to 50% of urban people are wearing masks. The government is imposing fines on whoever is not. So, out of all three recommended preventive measures for COVID, the government is successfully implementing the use of masks to some extent in urban and semi-urban areas. However, its use by the villagers is seen quite rarely.
So far India is concerned that air pollution is a big issue in metro cities, urban and semi-urban areas. Currently, many roads are being built in the villages. Where there are roads, there are more vehicles and more pollution.
Air pollution is of different types. Dust and particulate materials constitute more than 10% of the pollution. Many diseases are produced by dust and particulate material pollution. Some among them are:
– Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary diseases (C.O.P.D)
– Chronic bronchitis
– Ischemic Heart Diseases (I.H.D)
– Bronchogenic Carcinoma
In this context, the use of masks is very crucial. There are eight types of masks currently available across the world. They are:
1. Bandana Mask
2. Homemade cloth Mask
3. T-Shirt Mask
4. Store-bought cloth Mask
5. Cloth Mask with filter
6. Neck Gaiters and Bala Mask
7. Cone style Mask
8. N95, N99, KN95 and others.
Among all homemade two-layer cotton mask is very cheap and easily attainable. This type of mask can filter about 50% of dust and particulate materials. Mask made from an old T-shirt can also do that.
Nowadays, due to corona the government is insisting that people should wear masks. People have a tendency to not put their masks on. But let it be made clear that with rising traffic in cities, towns and villages, the increasing dust and particulate materials in air are gradually adding up to the pollution. That would affect people’s health.
All the literate people, elites of the societies, even doctors know very
well that inhalation of dust and particulate materials produces respiratory and heart diseases. But it is unfortunate that they didn’t wear masks till Corona hit India.
In conclusion, I would like to assert that everyone should wear masks to keep themselves safe in the years to come.
The author is a retired professor and Head of Department of Medicine at MKCG Medical College and Hospital, Berhampur.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Sambad English.