Masks a Must in Covid-19 Battle, Says Task Force

INDONESIANS were reminded to always put on face masks in public places, to reduce the risk of contracting the Covid-19 disease, as experts believe it can also be transmitted by air.

The national Covid-19 task force issued the advice, which follows a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that acknowledged the virus may also be transmitted through the air, according to The Jakarta Post.

Udayana University virologist, I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, said airborne transmission was possible in crowded indoor spaces such as malls, offices, restaurants and public transportation that had air conditioning instead of natural ventilation.

Mahardika, who is on the task force, said wearing masks should not be based on fear of contracting the virus but rather the awareness that anyone could be a carrier and might infect others.

“Wear a mask if you care about the people around you,” he advised.

Another expert staffer with the task force, Budiman Bela, said the transmission potential was higher in rooms and indoor spaces where the air was cold because the virus tends to be more stable at low temperatures.

In standing by their opinions, the two experts emphasised that chances of transmission could be minimised if people wore masks in such areas.

“Contagion is likely to occur in closed buildings with air conditioning, but if the people inside wear masks and maintain physical distancing, then the potential of transmission is much lower.

“Wearing masks remains a top preventive measure,” said Budiman, a microbiologist at the University of Indonesia.

“The mask stops any particles from the individual’s mouth and nose from travelling into the air,” he added recently.

WHO released new guidelines, which encourage people to avoid crowds and ensure good ventilation, explaining that some outbreak reports related to crowded indoor spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission.

This is in addition to contact with contaminated surfaces or with infected people who spread the virus through droplets when they cough, sneeze, speak, or sing.

Mahardika urged public service providers to ensure the use of natural ventilation such as opening doors and windows.

Using exhaust fans was also an alternative to help lower transmission potential in indoor spaces, he said.

“We can reduce the viral load in the air by propelling the air through an exhaust vent,” he explained.

The Health Ministry announced 1,671 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 74,018.

The ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, added that 66 more people died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 3,535.


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