Health DG reminds public to practise physical distancing

The use of face masks should be practised together with regular hand hygiene care and safe physical distancing. - NSTP file picThe use of face masks should be practised together with regular hand hygiene care and safe physical distancing. – NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has put forth several guidelines and advice on the use of face masks following the government’s latest ruling to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in a public setting.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there were two types of face masks for public use, namely medical and non-medical face masks.

He said medical face masks were ones such as the three-ply surgical mask used by healthcare personnel.

“People with respiratory tract infection symptoms; high-risk groups such as the elderly (those aged 60 and above); and those with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure are advised to use surgical masks,” he said in a statement today.

He said non-medical masks were recommended for those without symptoms but would visit crowded places where physical distancing was a challenge to maintain.

According to the ministry’s guidelines released earlier, fabric masks require a minimum of three layers, where the innermost layer is in contact with the wearer’s face and outermost layer exposed to the environment.

The ideal combination of material, it said, should include an innermost layer of hydrophilic material, such as cotton or cotton blends.

An outermost layer made of a hydrophobic material, like polypropylene, polyester, or their blends, which can limit external contamination from penetrating to the wearer’s nose and mouth; and, a middle hydrophobic layer of synthetic non-woven material, such as polypropylene or a cotton layer, that may enhance filtration or retain droplets.

Dr Noor Hisham said there were also fabric non-medical face masks available for sale in the market. However, he cautioned that such face masks may not meet the criteria recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said while fabric non-medical face masks could be worn, their effectiveness may vary depending on the type and number of layers of fabric used.

“It is important to note that face masks should not be shared with others. All face masks need to be worn and disposed of properly.

“Face masks should not be worn by children less than two years old, for those who have breathing difficulties and individuals who are unconscious, incapable, or unable to remove face masks without assistance.”

Dr Noor Hisham also reminded people to observe physical distancing and practice good hygiene.

“However, it must be remembered that the use of face masks should be practised together with regular hand hygiene care and safe physical distancing that is to maintain at least a one-meter distance from others.”

He said since government had made it mandatory to don face masks while on public transport and at crowded places those who disobey the new ruling would face a fine of up to RM1,000 under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

“Members of the public are urged to give their full cooperation to the government in combating this pandemic.”

By Tharanya Arumugam.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/08/613224/health-dg-reminds-public-practise-physical-distancing

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