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No Need For Face Mask, Says Physicians, With SOP Expected To Ease Soon

No Need For Face Mask, Says Physicians, With SOP Expected To Ease Soon

The government will announce additional SOP relaxation soon.

Fernando Fong

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As Covid-19 infection shows a declining trend and the rate of immunization increases, wearing face masks might 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 of below 1 (0.81 for the whole country) has reduced the risk of infection and makes the use of face masks no longer 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 account the relevant aspects.

He said there is no need to wear face masks in public places and open areas such as shopping malls, markets and outside the classroom.

Even if it needs to be worn, 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 the easing of rules for face coverings and masks.

Earlier, there were rumours that the government would relax the SOP on face masks as the country is now heading towards an endemic transition phase.

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

READ MORE: SIRIM Law For Face Masks Postponed To 2023 & No You Won’t Get Saman If You Wear One Without It

Meanwhile, the president of the Association of Islamic Doctors Malaysia (Perdim), Dr Boi Saidi Abd Razak said the government should relax the use of face masks as the level of Covid-19 infection is no longer as bad as before.

He said that even if the level of infection is severe, it only involves category 1 and 2 cases.

The percentage of infection levels for categories 4 and 5 is also seen to decrease.

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

Perdim president Dr Boi Saidi Abd Razak on the easing of face mask rules as a major step forward.

Concerns Associated With Face Mask Easing

A different view was expressed by the Community Health Specialist of 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 is wrong.

Sharifah pointed out that determining open and closed areas could be hard to ascertain as the community can now go about freely.

For example, when people visit KLCC, they have to bring a face mask because it has an indoor and outdoor area.

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

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

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

She said the government needs to ensure that the decline in Covid-19 cases is always on a downward trend.

Despite declining cases, it is vital to ensure a drop in categories 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 early, Covid-19 cases will likely increase dramatically due to uncontrollability.

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

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