If you don’t want to put your family in the danger of Coronavirus, this is what you should do.
14% of domestic workers in Hong Kong have not been given any surgical masks or hand sanitiser from their employers and were being left vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic, an online survey conducted by the Asian Migrant Coordinating Body in March 2020 found out. The survey also showed that around 20% of those who were given masks, they had received fewer than one surgical mask a day on average.
Are masks necessary?
Some might argue that wearing masks does not help to prevent coronavirus infection. It is true that wearing a face mask would not guarantee you are being protected in an exposed environment. However, the masks are in fact effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus. It can cover your nose and mouth so that the virus-contained saliva droplets in the air are less likely to get into your mouths and nose. It is important to note that wearing masks is only effective when you are cautious about avoiding your hands touching your eyes, mouth, nose, or even face before thoroughly washing your hands with soap.
Why should you share the surgical masks and hand sanitiser with your helpers?
Domestic helpers live closely with us. Due to the limited living space in Hong Kong and in Singapore, your helper is likely to share the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom with you and your family. If your helper is feeling ill, she is likely to pass her sickness to you and your family since you all have been in close contact.
If you are thinking it is okay to not provide sufficient protection to the helpers, you are actually very likely opening up the whole household to the danger of Coronavirus infection. Therefore, in order to protect your family from being infected, it is important to provide your helper with the essentials (i.e. protective face masks and hand sanitiser) while running daily errands and for the days off. You wouldn’t want your helper to get home sick after getting grocery from the outside or hanging out with their friends on the weekends, especially if you have vulnerable kids or elderly at home.
Remind her of the importance of social distancing
Although Hong Kong and Singapore government suggest domestic helpers to stay home during their rest days, you should respect her if she wants to go out and force her to stay in the house as it is her right to have her rest day / off day. What you can do instead is to remind her of the importance of social distancing. It is also essential to teach your kids how to maintain good hygienic practice, take a few minutes to read this article to get some ideas.
When to use the mask?
It is easy to find people wearing face masks in populated places such as supermarkets, shopping malls, and streets, etc. The purpose of doing that is to protect themselves from the virus, and to protect others from the saliva droplets that are spread by potentially infected individuals who do not isolate themselves from social activities.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), you should wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with the suspected 2019-nCoV infection. If you feel ill, having symptoms like coughing or sneezing, you should wear masks. It is also suggested that masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
How to use a mask properly?
The following instructions are provided by WHO:
- Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
When and how to dispose of a used mask?
- Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
- Report suggests that the general recommended wearing time for an ASTM-certified surgical facial mask is 4 hours.
- To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Though the pandemic has made a hard time for everyone meanwhile, we will successfully get through this because we all in this together.