There has been a never-ending debate on the effectiveness of face masks in protecting against COVID-19 infection during the ongoing pandemic. Many health experts suggest that people should avoid buying face masks indefinitely as that could lead to a shortage of masks for medical professionals tending to coronavirus cases.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned that masks are not the only "silver bullet" for stopping the coronavirus pandemic. One should wear them only if one is showing any symptoms of COVID-19 infection and in order to protect others from catching the virus. However, that shouldn't stop you from wearing masks as a precautionary measure.
Abu Dhabi police fines people for throwing used masks on the road
The Abu Dhabi police have issued a statement on its social media accounts that it will slap fines to the tune of 1,000 AED (approximately $275) against motorists who throw away their used face masks and gloves on the roads.
The police said they will impose the 1,000 AED fine along with six black points (penalties given in the form of points to discourage drivers from breaking traffic laws), if they are found indulging in such irresponsible behaviour.
A lot of motorists in the Emirate have been seen throwing their used masks on the roads, an act that the police warns is not only harmful to the environment and cleanliness of the city, but also poses a risk to public safety during these pandemic times.
If the used mask is contaminated that would be enough to spread the virus to whoever comes into contact with the mask, warn the police. The police also noted that everyone should adhere to preventive measures and know their responsibility.
"We refuse such behaviour [such as] littering masks. They may be contaminated and might contribute to the spread of coronavirus. We need to promote good behaviour and the disposal of masks in the dust bins available," Dr Farida Al Hosani, spokeswoman for the UAE health sector, said condemning some UAE residents for not safely disposing of their used masks.
How to safely and properly dispose of used masks
According to a coronavirus advisory on the website of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the correct way to safely discard a used face mask is to place it in a plastic bag and then put it in a trash bin.
The website also recommends that you wash your hands after handling the used mask.
How used face masks could be dangerous
The deadly coronavirus is primarily transmitted via droplets of mucus and saliva which are sneezed or coughed by the infected person.
Face masks stop the droplets from travelling beyond the wearer's face, but at the same time if a Covid-19 positive person throws his face mask on the road which would contain the infected droplets, an unassuming sweeper or frontline worker could come into contact with the mask and there is a high chance that he or she might get infected too.
Although the fines are applicable only in Abu Dhabi, the responsibility of properly disposing of used face masks in a safe manner applies to everyone irrespective of where they live.