No need for face masks, doctors say, SOPs should ease soon

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As Covid-19 infection shows a downward trend and vaccination rate increases, wearing face masks may no longer be mandatory.

The country’s transition to the endemic phase and the value of the infectious rate (R-naught or RO) of Covid-19 below 1 (0.81 for the whole country) has reduced the risk of infection and makes the use of face masks more relevant.

Public health physician Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar was quoted by Mingguan Malaysia as saying that the use of face masks should be relaxed, taking into consideration relevant aspects.

He said there was no need to wear face masks in public places and open spaces such as malls, markets and outside classrooms.

Even if it has to be carried, it may be in a closed place that involves many people and does not have a good ventilation system, especially in the synagogue and in the classroom.

Public health physician Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar on easing the rules for face coverings and masks.

Earlier, there were rumors that the government would relax the SOP on face masks as the country now heads into a rampant transition phase.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the latest standard operating procedures (SOPs) for face masks would be announced next week.

READ MORE: SIRIM law for face masks postponed to 2023 and no, you won’t get Saman if you wear one without him

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Association of Islamic Physicians of Malaysia (Perdim), Dr Boi Saidi Abd Razak, said the government should relax the use of face masks as the level of Covid-19 infection n isn’t as bad as before.

He said that although the level of infection is severe, it only affects category 1 and 2 cases.

The percentage of infection levels for categories 4 and 5 should also decrease.

The government should make it compulsory to wear face masks only for sick people, because not everyone can afford to buy a lot of face masks for daily use.

Perdim Chairman Dr Boi Saidi Abd Razak on relaxing face mask rules as a major step forward.

Concerns Associated with Face Mask Relaxation

A different view was expressed by Community Health Specialist from the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Prof. Dr. Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh.

She said the direct repeal of the rule on wearing face masks was wrong.

Sharifah pointed out that the determination of open and closed areas could be difficult to determine because the community can now move freely.

For example, when people visit KLCC, they should bring a face mask because it has indoor and outdoor space.

So which party wants to monitor and maintain community discipline in this situation?

UKM Prof. Dr. Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh on removing the outdoor mask mandate.

Commenting further on the matter, she said the government should observe two important things before easing the use of face masks, especially in declining cases and the value of R-naught.

She said the government needed to ensure that the decline in Covid-19 cases was still on a downward trend.

Despite the drop in cases, it is vital to ensure a drop in category 3, 4 and 5 cases and the death rate.

The R-naught value must be kept stable during this endemic transition phase and after the festival.

If the government relaxes instructions such as not wearing face masks and scanning MySejahtera too soon, Covid-19 cases will likely rise dramatically due to uncontrollability.

UKM Prof. Dr. Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh on the risks of relaxing face mask guidelines.

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