As we continue to wage war against the novel coronavirus, drastic measures are being taken. Government has announced a continuance of its partial lockdown measures for another month. We need to adhere to the various recommended precautions if we are to win this battle.

By now, we are all aware of the local and worldwide impacts of the coronavirus infection. Guyana is seeing its share of the infection. Given the global devastation of this Pandemic, we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Since we are still in the early phases of this infection in Guyana, our best chance of preventing a disaster, lies in preventing its spread as much as possible. While the frontline healthcare workers are doing as much as they can, you can play a more important role by staying at home and wearing a mask if you have to go out for necessities. If you do this well and do this now, many lives will be saved and Guyana can win this battle.

Why stay at home, won’t I be losing money?
You may take a financial blow from staying at home and not being able to conduct your daily business. However, if you don’t go out, you are likely to be free of the infection and be alive. If you are alive, you will be able to make up for the financial losses when this is over. If you risk it and go out, and get sick or die from the virus, think of how much more you and your loved ones will lose.

What’s the advantage of everyone wearing a mask?

If all of us in Guyana wear a mask, we will minimize/stop the virus from spreading when we talk, cough or sneeze. The mask blocks it from coming out. If the virus cannot spread freely, it cannot infect as many people and we should be able to decrease its potency and save many lives. Wearing a mask will:
● Stop infected persons from expelling the coronavirus when they talk, cough or sneeze
● Help remind you to not touch your face and therefore, decrease the risk of you getting the infection into your body
● If you still get infected while wearing the mask, there is a much better chance of starting with a lower inoculum of the virus and a better disease outcome.

What about mask shortages?
This is a real challenge worldwide. We need to prevent shortages of mask as our healthcare providers need them daily, especially the N95 masks. N95 and surgical masks cannot be washed and it will be expensive to use if you have to constantly replace them. We should let our healthcare providers use those and let’s use the 100% cotton masks when we are in public. These are very practical, reusable and easy to make. Just sew two layers of 100% cotton together, sew on two elastic ear attachments and attach a paper clip on the nosepiece for adjustments.
How to put your mask on
● Thoroughly wash and clean the mask before wearing it
● Wash your hands thoroughly before wearing the mask
● Ensure you cover your mouth and nose but not your eyes with the mask
● Do not touch your mask or face.
● As soon as the mask becomes damp or humid, switch to another mask and clean the used mask.
● Never reuse a mask after single use without cleaning it
How to take your mask off

● Do not touch the front or any other surface of the mask, remove it only with strings behind. For string mask, always untie the string below and then the string above
● After removal, immediately clean your hands with 70% alcohol-base hand sanitizer or with soap and water for 40 seconds
● Drop it directly into a soap solution or boiling water to which salt has been added

How can you clean your mask?
The following steps only apply to cotton masks:
● Thoroughly wash it in soap and warm water and leave it to dry in the hot sun for 5 hours
● If the sun is not out, boil the mask in hot salted water for 15 minutes and leave it to dry.
● You can also iron it for 5 minutes after washing with soap and water.

So what can you do to help save Guyana?
To recap, we can all do our part to fight this virus and save Guyana by:
● Stay at home as much as possible
● If you have to leave home for necessity, always wear a mask
● Always practice good hygiene especially sanitizing or washing your hands.
If we do these steps and we do them well, we should be able to save many lives including our own. We have all seen what the COVID-19 (coronavirus) infection is doing worldwide. Guyana and Guyanese are not immune to this infection. Let’s be responsible and fight this together before it’s too late and we are all overwhelmed and affected. Let’s spread the “everyone wears a mask and everyone stays home campaign” all over Guyana.


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