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Health DG: Malaysians should only wear a mask if they show symptoms

Apparently there’s confusion over conflicting statements and guidelines whether people should wear a face mask when they go out to public areas. According to Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, one should only wear a face mask if they show symptoms or deal with patients in the healthcare sector. He stresses that it is not obligatory for other people.

He quoted the WHO’s advisory where it states that healthy people would only need to wear a mask when you’re coughing or sneezing, or if you are taking care of a person with suspected COVID-19 infection. At today’s press conference, he told the press that social distancing is more than enough and it is not necessary to wear a mask but some of us overdo it.

After the Movement Control Order was announced, it was reported that some Malaysians were instructed by authorities to don a face mask and some were prohibited from entering supermarkets if they don’t wear one. Obviously, this has caused confusion and frustration and there’s currently a shortage of face mask in the country.

The Ministry of Health MyHealth portal has just tweeted an image which highlights when you should wear a mask. If you don’t show any of the listed symptoms, a face mask is not necessary.

About two months ago, Dr. Benedict Sim, a consultant for infectious diseases had explained that it isn’t necessary to wear a face mask. During that time, there’s no human-to-human transmission in the country yet. However, he did say that the advice may change over time if the outbreak changes.

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The same advice was also repeated by former Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Lee Boon Chye. He highlighted that those with fever, cold and cough should wear masks, while everyone else should take precautionary measures such as washing their hands often with soap.


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Alexander Wong