Infectologist Dumpis recommends medical masks; stresses correct use

In several European countries, a design fabric mask is not considered to be a sufficient protective instrument, but in Latvia, it still counts as valid. Latvian Television surveyed the public and experts on the matter October 25.

Passengers often use face masks incorrectly or do not use them at all in Riga public transport.

“I've been vaccinated, but I still wear the mask on my mouth and on my nose. Some [noses] hang out,” said passenger Leonīds. Santa said she only used a fabric mask only during short trips. “But otherwise I use medical or white,” she said.

In Riga transport, nearly 200 passengers were kicked out last week for not having a mask. A penalty of up to €50 has been imposed on some. But it's just the tip of the iceberg that can be caught. It cannot always be determined how healthy or unhealthy the other passengers are. For example, some go to the hospital via public transport.

“Unfortunately, some of the patients who arrive themselves, come with a Covid-19 infection. Traveling by public transport. And thus, no doubt, they threaten the people they are close to,” said Aleksejs Višņakovs, head of the East Hospital Emergency Medical Clinic.

The infectologist Uga Dumpis emphasized that the face mask can reduce the risk of infection, but is not a magic wand. The infectologist recommends the choice of medical masks or fabric masks with multiple layers, as well as respirators. But all of them will only make sense if they are used correctly, with nose and mouth tightly covered. 

“If we can't learn to use masks correctly, well, there is no reason to believe that now everyone will use respirators that are far more expensive and more difficult to access,” Dumpis said.

Mandatory requirements for better protection masks and even respirators in public transport are also discussed at the government level. However, this idea has been abandoned, due to both the complex controls and misuse and the cost.

The Ministry of Health confirmed that it was not planned to return to this issue in the near future. Meanwhile, several medical institutions, such as Children's Hospital, have introduced their own rules, banning non-medical grade masks.

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