The Costa Rican Health Ministry has announced that in the new phase of opening for some business that was scheduled for this past weekend may begin next weekend, with a new requirement of wearing masks while in public.
Most concerning is the requirement that restaurant servers and patrons will be required to wear masks. Apparently, once food arrives patrons can remove their masks to eat, and current spacing rules and number of guests allowed will remain in place.
It's not clear why these rules are being implemented, other than the increase of 64 people who tested positive for the virus. The number of patients hospitalized decreased over the weekend, as did the number in intensive care and there have been no further deaths attributed to the virus since June 9th.
A recent paper published by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19, published earlier this month states the following regarding the use of masks for the general public:
- There is limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in households, in particular those who share a house with a sick person, or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a measure preventing transmission.
- At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence
- One study that evaluated the use of cloth masks in a health care facility found that health care workers using cotton cloth masks were at increased risk of influenza like illness
compared with those who wore medical masks.
- potential increased risk of self-contamination due to the manipulation of a face mask and subsequently touching eyes with contaminated hands
- potential self-contamination that can occur if non-medical masks are not changed when wet or soiled. This can create favourable conditions for microorganism to amplify
- potential headache and/or breathing difficulties, depending on type of mask used
- potential development of facial skin lesions, irritant dermatitis or worsening acne, when used frequently for long hours
- difficulty with communicating clearly
- a false sense of security, leading to potentially lower adherence to other critical preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene
- waste management issues; improper mask disposal leading to increased litter in public places, risk of contamination to street cleaners and environment hazard
- disadvantages for or difficulty wearing them, especially for those living in hot and humid environments.
The advantages of wearing a mask were not necessarily medical.
- reduced potential stigmatization of individuals wearing masks to prevent infecting others (source control) or of people caring for COVID-19 patients in non-clinical settings
- making people feel they can play a role in contributing to stopping spread of the virus.
While everyone desires to see this global health issue come to a close, some common sense is required. There is little if any medical justification for members of the public to wear masks in public, even from the WHO.
There is support for those who have the virus to do so, to reduce the chance of spreading the virus to others they may be in immediate contact with. Ideally those people should remain indoors until their symptoms have ceased and their tests confirm they are healthy. I can't recall ever having the desire to go to a restaurant while ill with the flu and one would hope others act the same.
Nevertheless, in the continued drive by the government to see zero new infections and a return to normalcy, the Health Ministry put out the following statement today.
Mandatory masks in various services and shops from Saturday June 27
Monday June 22, 2020 . The Minister of Health, Daniel Salas announced today at a press conference that, in parallel with the new phase of opening that tentatively would be rescheduled for this weekend, the use of face masks is compulsory for certain services or shops.
Mandatory masks in various services and shops from Saturday June 27
The legal instruction will be published this week to take effect on Saturday. In this line, from June 27 the use of a mask or mask is instructed as follows:
For all people who serve the public. In the case of a restaurant, it must be a mask due to the elevated position of the person taking the order.
For the general public when using: paid transportation of people, cinemas, theaters, churches, banks and restaurants while they are not consuming.
The masks can be surgical or fabric and the masks must have general facial coverage, since it is important that it adequately covers the mouth and nose. All the instructions on the proper use of the masks and the details of how to make them at home are available on the Ministry's website: https://www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr/index.php/centro-de-informacion / material-communication / protocols-ms / coronavirus / masks
The hierarch of health emphasized that the measure is necessary due to the greater opening of services and shops, as well as the presence of the virus in highly populated centers, however, he stressed that the use of This personal protective equipment does not replace, at any time, the distancing and hygiene measures that have been communicated.
"The pandemic requires adjusting to new measures, new forms, new implements. The mask has not been part of our lives before, but it is important today to adapt to its correct use: not to be manipulating it, to ensure coverage of the nose and mouth, and for nothing in the world to allow it to give us a false sense of security, the distance and hand washing remain golden rules, ”said Salas.
The hierarch indicated that the details of the third phase of reopening will be announced this week, with the details of the services that may open, taking into account the epidemiological analysis.
2277 cases confirmed by COVID-19
As of June 22, 64 new cases of COVID-19 are registered, for a total of 2,277 confirmed cases, with an age range of zero to 92 years. It is 1006 women and 1271 men, of which 1660 are Costa Rican and 617 foreigners.
Positive cases are recorded in 77 cantons. By age we have: 1839 adults, 108 older adults and 330 minors.
There are 1043 people recovered in 72 cantons. The recovered cases have an age range of zero to 92 years, of which 500 are women and 543 are men, by age we have: 898 adults, 49 older adults and 96 minors.
There are 12 regrettable deaths, three women and nine men with an age range of 26 to 87 years. 28 people are hospitalized, four of them are in intensive care at the ages of 27, 43, 59 and 61 years.
At this time, 24,971 people have been discarded and a total of 35,625 samples have been process