“Make wearing face masks mandatory to reduce Covid-19 risk”

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, July 19: The federal and state governments should to look into the need of making face mask usage mandatory in “designated high risk public areas” on top of hand hygiene and social distancing measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, asserts Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii.

According to Dr Yii in a statement, such action is not new and is seen mandated in about 75 countries around the world in an attempt to slow down the spread of the disease, with citizens facing a possible fine if caught without one.

He pointed out that in Malaysia, Health Ministry director-general (DG) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham recently revealed that about 70 per cent of Covid-19 patients in the country are asymptomatic, increasing the need for face mask usage in high risk public areas as Covid-19 may spread from pre- and asymptomatic individuals, who may not know that they are infected, and linger as airborne droplets.

“Masking is nearly correlated with lower daily growth or strong reduction from peak growth of Covid-19 based on the data shown, and in simple terms, it is the best measure for people who have the disease, whether they are asymptomatic or not, to protect them from spreading it to other people.

“Even if one is not a Covid-19 carrier, one can still benefit from wearing a mask as it gives an extra layer of protection and significantly lowers the risk of getting infected,” Dr Yii added.

He opined that in order to properly implement this, the government should look at making the price of mask affordable including revising the current ceiling price for face masks that was increased during the peak of the infection here in Malaysia and making the said masks available to the general public especially those may not be able to afford it.

“The government should also provide masks especially in schools to give extra protection to the younger generations, the teachers and the staff in schools. On top of that, the government should also seek to secure mass production and availability of appropriate medical masks during the pandemic by incentivising local mask producers to produce more to cater for the need of the population on top of the need for healthcare services.

“While I believe medical masks should be prioritised for medical personnel, but until supplies of such masks are sufficient for the entire population, the public can be educated to use other alternatives including proper usage of non-medical fabric face masks,” he added.

At the same time, Dr Yii also called on the federal and state government to collaborate with all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and civil society to create and promote public awareness on the importance of using face masks.

“With the (number of) cases of Covid-19 growing in certain parts of our country especially here in Kuching, I believe the government should look at enforcing more layers of protection and lean on the side of caution to avoid a huge possible second wave that may have devastating economic impact on the people. Masking protects your community, not just you,” he highlighted. — DayakDaily