Sunday 7 June, 2020

Health Ministry advises public to wear cloth face masks

The Health Ministry is advising the public to wear cloth face masks in public, in addition to practising other health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a statement issued Sunday, the Ministry said the new recommendation was relayed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Ministry added that members of the public are advised to wear cloth masks, as N95 masks and surgical masks should be worn only by healthcare workers and other emergency responders.

"Based on ongoing local and international research into the spread and treatment of COVID-19, the Ministry of the Health continuously updates its public health protocols as new scientific evidence emerges."

"One significant recent development has been the recommendation from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) supporting “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings”."

(Photo: The CDC outlines how to make cloth face masks, find out more here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)

"In this regard, the Ministry of Health advises the general population that, once they are out in public. Cloth masks (including homemade masks) should be used as a part of the full range of personal protection measures that should be adopted to reduce the spread of COVID-19."

The Ministry said Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram, told the public about this development Ministry of Health’s virtual media conference on Saturday April 4, 2020.

The public is therefore advised to wear masks when they go out in public.

Persons must also follow all the other personal protection guidelines:

  • Stay at home
  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cover your coughs
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • Sanitize surfaces that are touched often
  • Practice social distancing.

The Ministry said the use of a mask alone will not reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

The Ministry said the wearing of masks is highly recommended in areas of high foot traffic (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware stores, banks)

"Persons must follow the recommended procedures for the use of masks, including sanitizing hands before putting on and after removing masks. Cloth masks should also be washed and dried thoroughly before re-use."

When to wear masks at home

The public is also advised that the consistent use of masks at home is recommended for every member of the household in the following instances:

  • If a family member believes that they have been exposed to COVID-19
  • If someone in the home has COVID-19 symptoms.

The Ministry said it will continue to update the public on all new recommendations regarding the appropriate public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

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