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As the news broke last night that South Africa is heading into a further two-week extension on our current three-week lockdown, I started receiving messages from people who before were not that worried about the current #COVID-19 outbreak, but now realise that perhaps this thing is a little more serious than the government and health authorities have been letting on.

In 2008 my sister, who was at the time was based in Shanghai, went through the SARS outbreak in China and I recall her worry and concern back then, and COVID displays all the same similarities to SARS – respiratory infection and spread through close contact and bodily emissions such as saliva and mucous. The whole of China wore masks during that period, and guess what, it passed on its way and life returned to normal.

Which leads me to the point of this article – better safe than sorry, right? I may not be carrying COVID. But someone around me may. If they sneezed on me and I got sick, in all likelihood I would be okay. I may feel a bit yucky and I have medical aid, so why worry right?

Well, firstly for the 2 weeks that I am infected before I start showing signs of being physically ill, I could pass this on to thousands of others without realising – think of dropping a pebble in a lake – those ripples? That’s basically the spread of this disease. That’s one pebble – now drop 100 pebbles… get it?

Barrier masks serve as a preventative measure only. No mask can truly protect you 100% – but it can help to stop the spread by assisting the wearer to not breathe in possibly infected droplets should someone accidentally cough or sneeze on you. Or if you accidentally cough or sneeze, then you don’t get that on others.

The last time I went to Pick ‘n Pay, very few people, including the staff of the store, were practising social distancing or wearing masks, despite the marks on the floor as to where to stand at the checkout and the fact there must have been maximum 30 people in the entire store at the time. A shelf packer came and literally leant right in front of me at the fresh veg fridges to put a bag of tomatoes back in its place. I leapt about 5 feet upwards and sideways to get away from him.

So if others cannot manage to adhere to the rules – then maybe it’s best if we do something proactive about it, right? Yes, wash your hands and stay at home, sure, but some people do not have the luxury of staying at home, and may possibly be infected without knowing it. Why take that chance?

I recently discovered local start-up Mzansi Masks’ reuseable and machine washable creations and loved their ethos behind their masks. Not only are they creating work for locals in the Western Cape during this period when many factories are closed and seamstresses have no work, but they are using all local fabrics and the fact that even after these masks pass their expiry (about 15 – 20 wears per mask) they are recyclable – not one wear throw in the trash disposable mask.

Obviously wearing a mask is great, but you need to follow certain rules for the mask-wearing to be effective. Do not touch your face while you are wearing your mask. Do not be on your cell phone. Your hands are touching potentially harmful items, then you text on your phone, answer a call etc, you are spreading that on to your once clean face. Do not touch the mask while you are wearing it, if you touch the dirty mask, then rub your eye and put your hair behind your ears, you are taking those potentially infected substances and rubbing it all over yourself.

It may seem like a pain, and to be honest masks are really not the most comfortable thing to wear, but for the 30-minutes you are in the grocery store you can handle it and not touch your face. Trust me. If I can, you can – and I touch my face ALL the time.

When you take the mask off, do so by the ear straps and chuck it in the washing machine. Masks can be washed with your normal laundry and washed on 40 degrees, hung out on the line to air dry and are ready to go again for up to 15 to 20 wears.

Select your fabric and quantity online on their website (adults and kids sizes available – depends on stock currently available as they are proving popular) and they will courier to you in about 2 days. Courier fees are over and above the R 100 per adult mask and R 90 per kids mask.

Once again, I stress, this is a personal CHOICE of mine. I am not being paid to share about these masks. They were gifted to me, as I showed interest in the fact that I would wear a mask in real everyday life because I believe in the ethos of protection and safety, whether the government or WHO or CDC says we must or must not, or whether the current wave of new armchair health experts on social media agrees or not.

Take responsibility for your health and that of your family, its the very least we can do as a community and a society.

I am available to answer any questions you may have about these masks and why one should wear a barrier mask, you can pop me an email here…

Find out more and order on Mzansi Masks website… HERE…

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