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Business News/ Science / Health/  Do we have to wear masks again? COVID-19 cases surge; new variant ‘Pirola’ BA.2.86 causes concern
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Do we have to wear masks again? COVID-19 cases surge; new variant ‘Pirola’ BA.2.86 causes concern

COVID-19 cases have surged, prompting discussions on the need for mask-wearing amid concerns over new variants and the upcoming respiratory virus season. Experts emphasise the importance of masks, especially in high-risk scenarios.

COVID-19 cases have surged in the US (Pixabay)Premium
COVID-19 cases have surged in the US (Pixabay)

COVID-19 cases in the United States have surged to levels reminiscent of the peak experienced last winter, causing concerns over the emergence of a new highly mutated variant known as "Pirola" BA.2.86 and the impending respiratory virus season. This resurgence has prompted discussions on the necessity of re-adopting mask-wearing practices.

Amidst debates and shifting opinions, experts assert that the call for mask-wearing has persisted since COVID-19 began circulating widely in 2020. Notably, while the utility of masks might not be universal—particularly outdoors—it still holds significance in specific scenarios.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, highlights that masking remains a potent tool for mitigating COVID-19 risk. He, as per Fortune, emphasises that individuals who face higher vulnerability, those planning indoor activities in crowded environments, or those frequently interacting with individuals at elevated risk due to health conditions should prioritise wearing masks during this phase of increasing COVID-19 cases.

Also Read: China to lift COVID-19 test requirement for incoming travelers, eases strict restrictions

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, underscores the importance of considering mask usage for those at heightened risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. As per Fortune, he advises vigilance, especially for those exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, when in the presence of individuals susceptible to severe disease. This guidance extends beyond the current context and applies consistently.

The consensus among experts underscores the crucial role of masking in curbing transmission, especially in circumstances where close contact and indoor settings increase the risk of virus spread. With the imminent possibility of a new variant and the onset of the respiratory virus season, health authorities are stressing the need for a cautious approach. Authorities are reminding the public that COVID-19 remains a formidable threat, necessitating continued adherence to preventive measures.

COVID-19: Return of masks?

Dr. Stuart Ray underscores the importance of considering various factors regarding mask usage. These include the prevalence of COVID in the community, with masking advised for moderate to high local transmission. Immunity, particularly antibody-based, may wane after several months, with varying efficacy against different strains, as per Fortune.

Also Read: Covid-19 body bag scam: Mumbai ex-mayor Kishori Pednekar's anticipatory bail application rejected

Given evolving variants, even the vaccinated should consider masking if not recently boosted or infected. Individual schedules and events play a role – large gatherings or high-risk interactions warrant protective measures. Those with elevated risk factors like health conditions are encouraged to prioritise caution and adopt mask-wearing as an added safeguard against severe outcomes.

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Sounak Mukhopadhyay
Sounak Mukhopadhyay, who also goes by the name Sounak Mukherjee, has been producing digital news since 2012. He's worked for the International Business Times, The Inquisitr, and Moneycontrol in the past. He's also contributed to Free Press Journal and TheRichest with feature articles. He covers news for a wide range of subjects including business, finance, economy, politics and sports. Before working with digital news publications, he worked as a freelance content writer.
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Published: 30 Aug 2023, 07:05 AM IST
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