Health D-G stresses masks in public not obligatory for most, amid conflicting directives from authorities

Shoppers stand at a distance from each other in a grocery store store in Cheras March 22, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Shoppers stand at a distance from each other in a grocery store store in Cheras March 22, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

PUTRAJAYA, March 23 — Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has again clarified today that one should only wear a face mask if they show symptoms or deals with patients in the healthcare sector, and not obligatory in public for the rest.

Responding to persisting confusion over conflicting statements and guidelines over the need for mask wearing in public including by security authorities, Dr Noor Hisham explained that social distancing is more than enough in general.

“Basically from the World Health Organisation’s [advisory], you only need to wear mask when you show symptoms, dealing with patients or requirement of working in a hospital environment.

“Generally social distancing is more than enough and it is not necessary to wear a mask but some of us overdo it for example... you want to wear it despite the advisory given,” he told a press conference at the Health Ministry here.

After the government announced a nationwide Movement Control Order beginning March 18, a number of Malaysians have found themselves repeated instructed by the authorities to don a face mask and some have been barred from entering supermarkets to shop for groceries without one.

This naturally led to confusion, paranoia and frustration among Malaysians amid the shortages of face masks in the country as one could be publicly shammed for not donning one in public.

 

 

When ask if the authorities can arrest an individual for not wearing one in public, Dr Noor Hisham said they cannot, as the practice is strictly advisory.

According to a World Health Organisation advisory uploaded on their website, mask wearing should only be limited if one is coughing, sneezing or taking care of a person suspected with Covid-19 infection.

It added that masks were only effectively when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Related Articles