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When face masks turn harmful!

When face masks turn harmful!

Little was known about face masks in this part of the world; and we believe in many other parts of the globe, until the advent of the fierce COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the human race without remorse.

As poor as we have rendered our country, although rich in natural resources, our Government could not afford even face masks to fight the pandemic, let alone other sophisticated medical outfit for testing and treatment. As usual, we have always relied on the generosity of other countries such as China, US, UK, Germany to name a few to solve our problems. The dependence syndrome has continued unabated, over sixty years after independence.

Like a trojan horse, much of this so-called generosity package, be it in loans or grants has not come without harm on the economy and the people by extension.

We would in this context, confine ourselves in the trending harmful use of face masks, which now provide hijackers a perfect tool to execute their dreadful trade against unsuspecting members of the public who believe in the preventive measure of masking up against COVID-19.

Capitalizing on the strict observance of wearing face masks, criminals disguised as commercial drivers have indulged in the vicious practice of kidnaping unsuspecting passengers using poisoned masks to disable their prey.

The latest instance of this ugly trend that has gone viral and shocked the public is about two women who boarded a taxi cab in central Freetown without face masks. The driver of the cab was quick to seize the opportunity to offer his passengers face masks to go through security monitoring unbeknown to them that the masks were contaminated. No sooner the two ladies put on the masks they fell unconscious and were taken to an unknown destination by their kidnappers. Subsequently, when they regained their consciousness, they found themselves in captivity and one of them was put on the phone to talk to her husband about their ordeal and the request to pay a ransom of Le 13 million.

Such a development is not just scary, but can definitely undermine efforts to fight against the virus. We would like to proffer a dual solution to this rather callous ploy of turning face masks as an instrument of kidnappers.

Firstly, and most importantly, negligent members of the public should ensure full compliance with recommended measures and restrictions to avoid falling into the trap of marauding kidnappers in disguise, while at the same time refrain from being provided with facemasks by drivers of commercial vehicles or bike riders as the case may be; they should always buy their own face mask whenever the need arises. In a related vein, measures should be put in place to stop commercial drivers from offering face masks to passengers.

Secondly, NaCOVERC must heighten public education on the implications of accepting facemasks from public drivers.

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