Public urged to wear face masks correctly

Yang Jian
Shoppers and meal deliverymen who fail to correctly wear facial masks are more likely to defined as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Yang Jian
Public urged to wear face masks correctly
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Services at Longhua Hospital in Xuhui District are suspended on Friday for screening.

Shoppers and meal deliverymen who fail to correctly wear facial masks are more likely to defined as close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, an epidemiological staff member has stated.

Some 54,000 related people, including 304 close contacts and 2,830 secondary contacts, have been tracked across the city and undergone quarantine measures, after Shanghai reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and three local asymptomatic cases on Thursday. All have tested negative so far.

Most of the close contacts and risky groups are related to the milk tea store at 228 Yuyuan Road in Jing'an District, where the confirmed cases works.

The store named "China Fresh Tea" has become Shanghai's only medium-level risk area. Employees working at other chain stores of the milk tea brand have tested negative.

"Some people became close contacts after purchased a cup of milk tea, while others removed masks inside the store," the staffer surnamed Chen, who took part in the epidemiological survey, told Xinmin Evening News.

"Every additional close contact means a larger group of secondary contacts and risky groups that must be quarantined," said Chen. "The amount of work will thus increase dramatically."

Chen and her colleagues had been studying the monitoring screen of the store for several hours to define close contacts. Key clues include the customers' interactivities with the employees who tested positive and how they wore masks in the store.

In one of the cases, a customer removed the mask after feeling too hot and briefly chatted with the employee when picking up the milk tea. Another customer forgot to wear a mask after going out and returning to the store. Some others just removed their masks to drink before leaving the store.

All of them had to be defined as close contacts, Chen said.

"Wearing a mask incorrectly equals wearing nothing."

a local epidemiological survey staff
Public urged to wear face masks correctly
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The milk tea store on 228 Yuyuan Road has been elevated to a medium-level risk area.

"Wearing a mask incorrectly equals wearing nothing," she added.

Chen asked citizens to wear masks properly, especially when shopping or ordering food in local malls. They should keep social distance or order by scanning QR codes as well as avoid eating at the stores.

"Such measures could save great troubles for others," she said.

When checking the monitoring screen, Chen found many meal deliverymen only covering their mouths with masks but keeping noses exposed, which would have no protection for them.

If they talked with the store staff or other deliverymen, the risk could be amplified, because they have to contact a large group of customers, she added.

She suggested promoting non-contact meal delivery services, or wearing a mask when receiving meals from deliverymen.

Multiple sites across the city, including shopping malls, neighborhoods and schools, have been undergoing screening for the new cases.

The coverage of the epidemiological survey is large because a megacity like Shanghai features high density, mobility and frequent interactivities, said Wu Fan, deputy dean of Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University and a member of the city's COVID-19 prevention experts' team.

There is no need to feel anxious or nervous, said Wu.

When encountered such screening or quarantine, citizens are encouraged to stay calm, fully cooperate and rearrange their travel itineraries, Wu said. The results of the screenings will be publicized as soon as possible, she added.

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