Although the obligation to cover the mouth and nose with masks in public spaces without crowds is no longer in force, people who continue to use them on the streets and health professionals expressed their fears about the Delta variant and admitted that they prefer to continue taking care of themselves. In La Plata, in fact, a simple walk through the streets and public walks allows us to see that a great majority still have the mask as their main ally.
“When I do my quick walk at dawn I take off my chinstrap because I go out at a time where there are hardly any people, but if I go shopping or go into a business I wear it because there are still deaths from coronavirus,” says Gladys Goñi, a 72-year-old woman who, despite having the two doses against Covid-19, still maintains the habit of putting on the mask in the open air.
A few days ago, the Buenos Aires authorities announced that the mask was no longer mandatory in outdoor spaces without crowds of people, as well as during school breaks, a measure decided by the reduction of cases and the advancement of the plan of vaccination.
The Ministry of Health of the Nation had highlighted on September 29 that the use of the chinstrap “will cease to be mandatory outdoors as long as there are no other people in close contact”, although it will continue to be “in closed places” such as classrooms. , cinemas, theaters, workplaces, public transport, shows and mass events.
Regarding whether or not to maintain the mask, whose mandatory use for closed spaces such as commercial premises and public transport began on April 15, 2020, almost a month after the mandatory isolation was installed for the majority of the population, the infectious disease physician Elena Obieta assured that “I would not want people to adopt this false sense of security that the pandemic is over. We have community circulation of the Delta variant, in addition to those we already know, so it is essential that we understand that the virus is still among us and the only thing that can be done to reduce its chances of continuing to infect people is to prevent it from entering in our body or to transmit it with the vaccine and the care ”.
For Obieta, when someone is moving outdoors, they may not use a chinstrap, but the ideal is to wear it to put it on when entering a business, getting on a bus or chatting with someone on the street even if it is hot or outdoors.
The specialist mentioned the case of Japan, where with a low vaccination rate they had an outbreak with the Delta variant despite not having previously had transportation or circulation restrictions. “So they rushed the vaccination and kept the mask on, but the closed nightclubs were a source of great concern because that led to cases in schools,” he said.
For her part, the infectious disease doctor Leda Guzzi assessed that she would not advise abandoning the chinstrap even if the pandemic turns into an endemic, “especially in people at risk with comorbidities such as COPD or chronic heart disease.” On the other hand, for those who do not have underlying comorbidities “perhaps it may be a good practice in crowded places such as public transport or poorly ventilated, depending on the perception of risk of each one,” he said.
However, the doctor advised against maintaining the practice for children in a post-pandemic future “because they need to be immunized and generate that contact with different agents to strengthen their immune system.”
Guzzi considered that although the decision to lift its obligation was made at a good epidemiological moment due to the decrease in cases, it should be reversed if there is an increase in infections due to the Delta variant.