Several European states have started to require the wearing of surgical masks or respirators against growing coronavirus rates. While in Estonia at the moment, all types of face-covering are deemed acceptable, virologist Andres Merits says that Estonia should install a surgical mask-wearing requirement as well.
"There is more information about surgical masks, which shows there is no actual doubt that it helps in the social scale. A surgical mask is also very cheap. I understand we would be creating more trash that way, but producing trash for a couple of months is better than producing dead bodies," Merits said.
In addition, Merits says the mask-wearing requirement should be broadened to all indoor spaces, save for private homes.
Merits added that the face coverings that are not helping, should be given up. "Scarves, handkerchiefs and others similar things, which meet the current requirement to cover your face, but don't have any actual positive impact," he said.
While the Czech Republic and Austria are requiring actual respirators be worn in public transport and shopping malls, then Merits doesn't consider such norms reasonable for the general public in Estonia, however.
At the same time, choosing which type of surgical mask to wear will vary from person to person, he said.
"The mask really has to fit with the face. It may take trying several models before finding the right one. Since there are additional problems with wearing respirators, it is understandable that there will be differences between [mask requirements in] hospitals and the general population," Merits explained.
Magnum Medical is one company equipping pharmacies with masks, and the firm's board chair, Timo Danilov, said that there is not likely to be supply difficulties if surgical masks are required. The price of the masks has consistently fallen as well, he said.
Merits emphasized that if a surgical mask becomes a requirement, it should be ensured that people don't have to carry any backup. The norm would then be successful only if institutions offer the masks themselves, he said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino