Daily Bulletin


News

  • Written by Holly Seale, Senior Lecturer, UNSW
It's easy to judge. But some people really can't wear a mask

Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton said recently there were good reasons why some people can’t wear a mask:

A number […] are legitimately not able to wear masks so please don’t vilify individuals or don’t make the assumption they are simply stubborn. There will be people with medical, behavioural, psychological reasons […] certainly don’t make an assumption that they should be the subject of your ire.

He commented on the first day wearing a mask in public in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire became mandatory, except for those without a valid reason.

Read more: Which mask works best? We filmed people coughing and sneezing to find out

It’s easy to jump to conclusions

As wearing a mask in public becomes more common in Australia, either because it’s mandatory where you live or because you choose to wear one, it might be tempting to assume people who don’t wear masks are irresponsible, misguided or selfish.

You might also question why you need to wear a mask when others don’t.

But some people find wearing a mask difficult or distressing. So, to reduce the risk of inflammatory or inappropriate comments being made, we need to understand some of the reasons why:

  • autism — some people with autism spectrum disorders find covering the nose and mouth with fabric can cause sensory overload, feelings of panic, and extreme anxiety

  • disability — some people with a disability can find wearing a mask difficult if they cannot remove one from their face without help. For example, someone with cerebral palsy may not be able to tie the strings or put the elastic loops of a face mask over the ears, due to limited mobility

  • post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety or claustrophobia — people with these conditions can find wearing a mask terrifying and may not be able to stay calm or function while wearing one

  • hearing impairment — people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who care for or interact with someone who is hearing-impaired, rely on lipreading to communicate. So wearing a face mask can be a challenge

  • facial deformities or physical trauma — may be incompatible with wearing a mask.

There are legitimate safety concerns

This is not a list of exemptions. Nor should we assume all people who fall into these categories can’t wear masks.

In some situations, wearing a face covering may worsen a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or be a significant safety concern.

In the United States and United Kingdom there have been reports of people with disabilities being challenged, threatened with arrest, or excluded from retail and food outlets for not wearing a mask.

Conversely, there have been incidents in which anti-mask activists have feigned disability to avoid having to wear a mask in public. This could magnify scepticism and mistrust of people with legitimate, but potentially not obvious, reasons for not having to wear a mask.

While there are people who genuinely cannot wear masks, for others, it may just take extra time, resources, adaptions, alternatives and support to feel comfortable wearing one.

Read more: 13 insider tips on how to wear a mask without your glasses fogging up, getting short of breath or your ears hurting

That might involve a bit of trial and error before finding a mask that fits well or is made from a comfortable fabric. Others may be able to wear a mask, but for only a short time.

There are online resources with useful tips and strategies to reduce the stress and challenges associated with using a mask or face shield. However, governments also need to ensure these resources are accessible to the people who need them, their family and carers.

How about breathing problems?

The Victorian government includes people with breathing problems on its list of valid medical exemptions for not wearing a mask in public.

But this is a grey area. We don’t have evidence-based guidelines for judging these various medical exemptions. Each country is currently taking a slightly different approach in this area.

In any case, given the types of masks the public are wearing (cloth masks or surgical/face mask), some experts say it’s unlikely these masks will cause problems.

For instance, the chief medical officer of the American Lung Association said recently:

People with underlying chronic lung disease, such as [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] or asthma, should be able to wear a non-N95 facial covering without it affecting their oxygen or carbon dioxide levels.

The World Health Organisation also says face masks of breathable material, worn properly, will not lead to oxygen deficiency or carbon dioxide intoxication.

For most of us, wearing a mask is new

While we all adjust to wearing masks in public, it is important we try to assume as little as possible about others based on whether they’re wearing one.

Remember, the goal of the public wearing a mask when leaving the house is to reduce the risk of community transmission. If we can do that without vilifying people who genuinely can’t wear masks, or need a bit of extra support to do so, we all benefit.

Read more: Victorians, and anyone else at risk, should now be wearing face masks. Here's how to make one

Authors: Holly Seale, Senior Lecturer, UNSW

Read more https://theconversation.com/its-easy-to-judge-but-some-people-really-cant-wear-a-mask-143258

Writers Wanted

Hippocrates and willow bark? What you know about the history of aspirin is probably wrong

arrow_forward

My best worst film: She's The Man – Amanda Bynes shines in a hilarious commentary on gender

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

3 Ways to Keep Your Business Safe with Roller Shutters

If you operate your business in a neighbourhood or city that is not known for being a safe environment, it is not surprising if you often worry about the safety of your business establishments o...

News Co - avatar News Co

Expert Tips on How to Create a Digital Product to Sell on Your Blog

As the managing director of a growing talent agency, I use the company blog to not only promote my business but as a way to establish ourselves as an authority in our industry. You see, blogs a...

Adam Jacobs - avatar Adam Jacobs

How to Find A company with Tijuana manufacturing

If you have decided to launch a business in Tijuana, there is a need to know about the manufacturing companies. The decision to choose a manufacturing company is not so easy as it looks.   The rig...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion