EPIDEMIOLOGIST Dr Avery Hinds has stressed there is no risk of lack of oxygen or inhaling too much carbon dioxide from wearing masks.
He was speaking on Monday during the virtual covid19 media conference and was asked about concerns that continuous mask-wearing could have deleterious effects from insufficient oxygen intake and breathing in carbon dioxide.
Hinds replied: "I am happy that you have raised it, because I am hoping that today we can put that to rest...
"A face covering, even if it does cover your nose and mouth, (of the types) we are suggesting, be they cloth masks or surgical masks, are not designed in such a way that they prevent the entry of oxygen. Oxygen is a tiny molecule that get into, through and around the mask without any difficulty whatsoever.
"And they are also not designed in such a way that they trap carbon dioxide ,which is another tiny molecule that gets out of the mask with equal ease."
He said in several videos medical personnel have demonstrated with objective tools that the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are not affected by wearing masks even over protracted periods.
"(That is) something that should be obvious, given the (fact that) medical professionals required to wear a mask over the course of their daily activities do not suffer from hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) or hypercapnia, which is increased carbon dioxide levels.
"So these would not be scientific or sound reasons to be unwilling to wear a mask."
He added the legal requirement is for face coverings of different kinds.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said a series of measures to combat the spread of covid19 had been instituted, most recently legislation to make not wearing face coverings, including masks and shields while in public against the law.
But, he said, "Coming into Port of Spain this morning, I am still seeing people – even though police have been charging people – on the San Juan taxi stand, (specifically) passengers not wearing masks. You are still seeing people at the (San Juan) Croisee promenade who have the masks and who insist on having it under their chins.
"You are going to be fined," he warned. "To avoid the fine, just wear the masks properly."
On Monday police reported 61 people were given tickets between 6 pm on Sunday and 6 am on Monday for failing to wear face masks in public.
The fine for not wearing a mask in a public place is $1,000 for a first offence, $2,000 for a second offence and $3,000 for a third offence.