Crowded public spaces. Photo for illustration purposes. Photo: Bernama

COMPULSORY USE OF FACE MASKS

SIBU: The compulsory use of face masks in public places from August 1 should be given full support by all Malaysians for their common good.

Chairman of Sibu Benevolent Society Robert Chew said the wearing of face masks should have been made compulsory right from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But better late than never. Everyone should know by now wearing of face mask is for one’s personal protection while at the same time preventing the spread of the virus.

“We have seen the recent spike in cases in Australia due to people going about with their life as they want. In a worst-case scenario it is frightening to hear how one infected person can spread the virus to 71 other persons. So everyone has to play a part in keeping healthy and be safe by avoiding crowded areas and to stay at home,” he said.

A shipping executive, Albert Tay,54, said the wearing of face masks in crowded and public areas, and especially when using public transport is the “most ethical and morally right thing to do.”

“The wearing of face masks protects you and others. As has been acknowledged, transmission of the virus can be through physical contact or airborne. In order to curb the spread, every person must do his or her part in preventing the spread,” he said.

For paediatrician Dr Toh Teck Hock, the ruling is deemed timely.

“From literature, we know social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing of masks are evidence-based practices that will cut the risk of infecting others and getting infection. Looking at the news images and seeing what is happening, how people have been enjoying the ‘freedom’ in public places without the masks and staying so close physically to each other, that certainly is a great concern. The battle is not over yet and the virus can come back anytime,” he said.

Dr Toh added that it was important for everyone to learn to protect themselves and the people surrounding them.

“We are dealing with a virus that easily spreads from one person to another. An infected person can potentially get very sick – we do not want to do that to any of our loved one,” he added.

On the types of masks to wear, he said there were many types which could serve different purposes.

“The one which can really reduce the spread of the virus is N95. But we do not advocate the general public to use that because it is not only expensive, but not easily available, and it can potentially cause harm if not trained to use it,” he added.

Dr Toh said disposable surgical masks could be costly while clothes masks were relatively cheaper and could be washed and re-used.

Senior Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yakob had on July 23 said the ruling was made due to the increase in positive Covid-19 cases lately and low compliance to standard operating procedure among the public.

Those who do not comply with the ruling will be issued a compound of RM1,000 under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 or prosecuted in court.