Wenceslao: Wear a face mask

My first encounter with people wearing face masks was in a hospital. My son was admitted for pneumonia but the doctor tested him for tuberculosis. She apparently botched the assessment of the test results because I observed that medical practitioners who entered his room started wearing face masks. I pitied my son because the medical practitioners seemed to worry about getting sick with TB in our room.

But when we were allowed to check out, I didn’t notice TB symptoms in our child. He wasn’t even coughing. Yet we still brought home the anti-TB medication given to us for free. We planned to follow the doctor’s instruction but there was one problem: Our son vomits when forced to swallow medicines. That was a problem.

We did the next best thing, which was to bring our son to his original doctor for a second opinion. He examined our son and told us he didn’t find TB symptoms in our son. He said we may use the medications for TB if we wanted but only for prevention. That was a signal for us to just keep the medication in the medicine cabinet untouched.

My son is now in high school and is healthy, thank God. We never went back to the doctor who diagnosed him with TB. And I never forgot how medical practitioners who entered the room where our son was admitted wore face masks even if our son didn’t exhibit symptoms of TB. I pitied him because he was treated like a tubercular child. Although I tried to understand why they implemented that protocol in our son’s room.

Now people are wearing face masks because of the pandemic and because the government requires it. We are not preventing the spread of TB but preventing the spread of the more sinister coronavirus. I understand why protocols are in place against the virus. That is why I myself am following them.

I wear a face mask in public places and even if I am not told to do it. I practice physical distancing. Maybe I would loosen up after I get vaccinated, but this is not only about me. Face masks protect you from the respiratory droplets of other people. But it also protects other people from your respiratory droplets. That is why I would never discourage people from wearing face masks.

One of the reasons for the spread of the virus is that some people either underestimate its potency or underestimate the efficacy of the suggested protocols. I even hear some people say the pandemic is a hoax. Conspiracy theorists allege that medical practitioners simply attach the name Covid-19 to every illness even if the coronavirus is not the cause of the illness.

The belief results in the refusal to follow the protocols. There is even this anger against policymakers for making the impositions. But while we may not admit it, the lockdowns do have an effect of preventing the further spread of the virus and lowering the mortality rate caused by the increase in the number of people infected with Covid-19.

There is this Cebuano saying, “Uwahi na ang pagbasol. (Regrets come later.)” How many times have we heard stories about relatives telling a member of the family to stay at home only to be defied? And when that member of the family got sick with Covid-19 “uwahi na ang pagbasol?”

So continue wearing the mask even if the authorities won’t force you to.