Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: The federal and state governments are urged to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in designated high-risk public areas, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.

He said that this is on top of practising hand hygiene as well as social distancing to curb the spread of Covid-19, adding that the current measure of temperature recording in public places may not be sufficient to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“This includes markets, clinics and hospitals, malls, schools, public transports, public halls and enclosed venues where people converge in groups for a prolonged period and where interactions are unavoidable.

“Such actions are not new and is seen mandated in about 75 countries around the world in an attempt to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, with citizens facing a possible fine if caught without one,” he said in a statement on Sunday (July 19).

Dr Yii said by wearing a face mask, it adds another layer of protection, especially against droplets, which is the primary source of the spread of the virus.
“The current standard operating procedures (SOPs) may be insufficient, including the recording of temperatures in most public places, which cannot identify a carrier, especially if they are asymptomatic,” he said.

He said in order for this to be implemented, the government should reduce the price of face masks, including revising the current ceiling price for masks that was increased during the peak of the infection in the country.

“This is as well as making it available to the general public, especially those who may not be able to afford it. It is regrettable that the promised free masks by the federal government did not reach most of its intended targets as many have complained about not receiving them.

“The government should also provide masks especially in schools to give extra protection for our younger generation, as well as the teachers and staff in the school,” he said.

Dr Yii said that the government should secure mass production and the availability of appropriate medical masks during the pandemic by incentivising the local mask producers to step up production of face masks.

“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 mask.

“Public awareness of the importance of wearing a face mask needs to also be promoted in collaboration with all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the civil society.

“This is so that there is proper understanding of the matter and proper buy-in which is needed for proper implementation and promotion of common goods and community protection,” he said.