The Voice Explains

Explanation: Why don’t we use masks on a massive scale in Costa Rica?

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Translator: Rubén Acevedo Rodríguez

The use of masks is one of the most controversial topics in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may be asking yourself if you have to wear a mask or why other countries are using them more than Costa Rica.

Currently, the Ministry of Health (Minsa) does not recommend the massive use of masks, meaning that they do not ask people to wear them, even if they do not have symptoms of the virus.

In fact, health authorities are warning that the incorrect use of these implements may put people at greater risk of acquiring the virus.

The Minister of Health Daniel Salas explained during a press conference that a lot of times people using masks have a feeling of “false safety”. That means they have a feeling of being protected by wearing a mask and they forget about other important safety measures, such as maintaining social distance or washing their hands.

This is the same position of the World Health Organization (WHO), and it warns that masks can also be dangerous because people do not know how to wear them properly, so they touch their face and eyes, and that encourages transmission of the virus.

On the other hand, the WHO has insisted that medical masks should be limited to health workers. If governments recommend a massive use, this can lead to the masks being depleted.

Different opinions

Other countries have taken different measures than Costa Rica. For example, in Austria everyone must wear a mask while shopping, according to DPA International. The government of this European country announced that soon masks will be mandatory in all situations where people are in close contact.

In the Czech Republic, the wearing of masks in public has been mandatory since March 18.According to information from the Czech media Prague Morning, the country went from 0% to 100% mask use in only ten days and almost all of them are homemade.

There are also examples on our continent. In Argentina, some local governments have made it mandatory to cover the nose and mouth with homemade masks, according to Chequeado reports. This is one of the media that are part of the LatamChequea network, to which La Voz de Guanacaste also belongs.

Health authorities around the world also have different positions. For example, the WHO has found no evidence that wearing a mask in healthy people prevents the transmission of COVID-19.

Currently, the WHO is only in favor of using masks massively in countries with problems in maintaining the necessary hygienic measures, such as hand washing. This was the report of, a Spanish media that also belongs to the Red LatamChequea.

In contrast, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control recommended covering your face to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Also the German research community Leopoldina, a group of scientists of reference in Germany, assured that the massive use of the masks is the only way to return to  normality, according to reports of the Deutsche Welle. Leopoldina added that wearing masks is going to be very important for the reopening of shops and education centres in Germany.

Extra protection

The Minister of Health Daniel Salas made it clear that all people are free to wear masks if they wish. “At no time we have said that they should not wear them. The population that wants to use (masks) can do so, but there are much more specific recommended cases,” said the minister.

It refers to people who do not have respiratory symptoms but have lost their sense of smell, who have been near suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you are in doubt about when to wear a mask, you can consult the ministry’s guide.

Salas concluded that the most important thing is thatif a person is wearing a homemade or purchased maskthey should maintain social distance and hygiene measures.