Masks Off…Or On?

IT’S masks off as Singapore steps into the next phase of its move away from restrictive COVID-19 regulations.

From 29 August, it’s optional to wear masks in most indoor settings.

But you’ll still have to wear a mask while riding in public transport and in medical facilities. 

While there’s general glee at the thought of removing masks and being able to breathe in the air and see the full faces of other people, it brings to mind a crime prevention slogan that is applicable in this instance.

Low crime doesn’t mean no crime.

In the same vein, just because masks are off, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 isn’t still out there. Herd immunity may statistically work out for the greater good — opening up the economy, returning to normal business. That’s great provided you’re not one of those that the statistics doesn’t favour.

Based on the experiences of those who’ve caught COVID-19, the impact of catching the illness has been mixed. And the effects vary depending on the strain of COVID-19 that you caught.

Some had slight sniffles for a day, and then nothing. Then there are those who were battered for a few days with fever, headaches and body aches. The more severe cases suffered for months from constant fatigue, brain fog, which makes it difficult to concentrate, and headaches.

Then there are those who didn’t make it. And with an ageing population, it’s best to safeguard the elderly and those at greater risk in your household.

Some COVID-19 “virgins” — those who have yet to get it — are probably feeling invincible. There are those who have been ripping off their masks as soon as they are in the clear. And there’s another group wondering if they’ll be tempting fate by not wearing a mask.

How a little piece of material can make such a difference in your life and the decisions you make.

“Masks have shown to reduce infection numbers so they would be useful in crowded places,” says physician Dr Gerard Wong.

“Infections will still occur in less crowded places but because omicron seems to cause less severe infections the authorities are willing to accept the numbers as these are likely manageable and will not overwhelm the healthcare system,” he adds.

What’s baffling are the rules about when to use it and when you can take it off. If breathing is the main cause of spreading and catching COVID-19, why have different rules for those using public transportation and those in restaurants or offices? 

Might as well make mask-wearing optional everywhere. If you’ve been vaccinated — and there are new versions of the drug coming up to tackle the latest strains — and boosted, you can feel protected to some extent. 

And if you haven’t, well the consequences have been made quite clear.

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