One of the worst pandemics in human history continues, although its incidence is declining. While nations await vaccines and specific treatments in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have taken a variety of public health measures to reduce the spread of the disease. Social distancing, hand hygiene and face masks were considered the first steps to prevent and control the transmission of the disease.
Many international studies have shown statistically significant associations between wearing a mask and a reduction in the number of new COVID-19 transmission, hospitalizations and deaths. The effect of face masks on the spread of infections has been studied for a long time. There is evidence that face masks help reduce the spread of previous epidemics such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) or influenza. The main transmission routes of these infections are mostly droplets emitted from infected persons during breathing, speaking, coughing and sneezing, and airborne aerosols. Adequate social distancing reduces transmission and minimizes risk despite exposure to germs. In areas where adequate social distancing is not possible, such as public transport and elevators, face masks are likely to reduce the spread of virus-laden droplets and airborne aerosols. It is an indisputable fact that infected patients can transmit germs to other people a few days before they show symptoms or starting from the incubation period. Above all, face masks are important in preventing and controlling disease transmission and protect not only the person wearing the mask, but also those around them. I have clearly observed in my own patient group that the rate of flu and cold transmission has decreased significantly in the last three years in those who wear face masks to protect against COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization, about half of all deaths in the world are due to preventable diseases. Millions of children die before they reach the age of 5, and about 65% of these deaths are due to communicable diseases. One of the most important goals of preventive medicine and public health is to prevent people from getting infected. In order for humanity to overcome infectious diseases, it would be a rational approach to abandon the misconception or ignorance about personal freedom and face masking. I definitely recommend wearing a face mask in crowded places, especially in public transport and elevators, at least in autumn and winter seasons, in order to avoid flu and COVID-19 transmission.