OPINION: Masks should remain a staple in a post-pandemic world

by | Nov 20, 2020 | Opinion

Wearing masks in public should become a societal norm even after the COVID-19 pandemic is finished.

COVID-19 has forced us to change how we operate in our society. One of the biggest changes is the normalization of wearing masks in public forums.

Before everyone would be bunched up on buses or in crowded cities, increasing the opportunity for illness to spread. But now, wearing masks is helping to protect us in those areas from transmittable viruses.

The flu season has arrived in Canada and already we are seeing the positive effects of most people in this country being aware and doing their best to protect themselves and others.

Health Canada reported only 17 cases as of Nov. 7. This time last year there were more than 711 cases reported. Vaccines and masks seem to work well.

COVID-19 is still rampant with numbers increasing every day, but we have hope with two vaccines, both of which are touting an over 90 per cent effectivity. And there’s a third on the horizon,

But even if these vaccines have the capability of eradicating the coronavirus, public perception still would need to be changed for them to be effective. Some, for example, mistrust vaccines, citing debunked claims that some contribute to autism in children.

If this perception translates to the coronavirus vaccine, those who choose not to get it can still carry this deadly virus.

Measles is a great example of making a comeback because of the anti-vaccine movement, and with how easily COVID-19 can spread it may be even tougher to eradicate.

That is why normalizing masks is needed for us in public forums, even after the pandemic.

In East Asian countries it has become a cultural norm that when you think you’re sick in public, you wear a mask. Japan is an example of a country where it’s ingrained in their culture to think about other people and not pass their germs onto others.

Some view masks as an inconvenience, but for those who are vulnerable or have family that are vulnerable, they are a necessity and doing our best to help these families should be a necessity as well.

It isn’t going to be an easy battle. In Ontario, it appeared as if we had somewhat of a handle on COVID-19 until some began to lower their guard. People will forget how easy it is to catch this, or any, virus and will stop taking the precautions even when a vaccine has been found.

Our biggest weapon is being mindful of others and taking the needed steps beforehand to make sure you are safe, whether for the coronavirus or for the common flu.

This, alongside medical care from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals can help us fight a variety of illnesses. So be safe, wear a mask, and we can beat more viruses than just COVID-19.