Public encouraged to wear face mask when businesses reopen on May 4 under CMCO, says Health D-G

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Putrajaya May 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Putrajaya May 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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PUTRAJAYA, May 1 — Wearing surgical mask in public is not mandatory but encouraged, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today, as the majority of economic sectors and businesses are now allowed to reopen subject to strict conditions come May 4.

Responding to queries on whether the Health Ministry’s guideline also included the use of face masks by the public when businesses reopens, Dr Noor Hisham said the public was encouraged to wear one, despite the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advisory on masks usage being limited to those symptomatic or those employed in the front lines.

“For now, we are encouraging the public to wear masks if there is a need to leave their homes or heading towards a public area,” he said in his daily Covid-19 press briefing here.

This comes after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today announced that business owners must ensure their employees are equipped with face masks all the time as eateries are expected to resume dine-in services starting May 4.

Masks have been a controversial issue in the Covid-19 pandemic due to the dissonance between official recommendations and the realities of life with the disease.

From the WHO’s advisory uploaded on their website, mask-wearing should only be limited to when one is coughing, sneezing or caring for a person suspected to have Covid-19.

According to WHO Infection, Prevention and Control consultant Christine Francis, a surgical mask cannot protect against Covid-19 infection when used alone and should consequently be limited to specific cases.

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

Despite these recommendations, however, some authorities have taken it upon themselves to enforce the use of masks, leading to public confusion.

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