IPOH, Feb 2 — People with no symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) need not be afraid if they do not wear face masks in public places because the virus has so far been contained from spreading to the community.

However, Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said, people with fever, cold and cough should wear the masks so as not to infect others.

“If they do not have symptoms, they do not have to wear the masks for protection. It is not necessarily effective against infection.

“To avoid infection, what is most important is to wash the hands often, using soap and detergent. If you do not wear masks properly and touch your face, then there is a risk of infection,” he told reporters after attending the Chinese New Year celebration organised by the Perak Chinese Assembly Hall here today.

Dr Lee who is also Gopeng Member of Parliament was commenting on the views by certain parties that face masks should be worn to prevent infection of the 2019-nCoV.

Dr Lee said making the mask compulsory for the public would create panic, even possibly leading to calls to close down public places.

“Do we need to cancel all assemblies, close down schools, cinemas, this will result in unwarranted panic,” he said.

To date, the number of cases found positive for 2019-nCoV remains at eight, with the number of patients under investigation for coronavirus infection at 183 while 18 others are still waiting for the results of laboratory tests. — Bernama