Doctor: Make masks readily available for the poor

PETALING JAYA: Masks must be made readily available so that its mandatory wearing will not be unfair to low-income groups, said Datuk Dr Amar Singh.

The senior consultant paediatrician raised concerns that a ruling which makes mask-wearing compulsory may unfairly penalise the poor.

“To keep changing and buying masks may be difficult for the poor.

“We could promote good cloth masks.

“The poor cannot afford to keep using the masks for only a few hours and then trashing it, ” he said.

He gave the example of communities in Poland that stitched and distributed fabric masks for people in the country.

Singapore, he added, has also set up dispensing machines in which residents can collect two free reusable masks.

“Singapore has made mask-wearing mandatory but they have also made it readily available.

“They don’t give people any excuse for not wearing them, ” he said.

He added that the ruling must be applied across the board, including schools, especially as schools were potential Covid-19 clusters.

“Schools feature a very dense group of people who are meeting together, talking and running around.

“The Covid-19 outbreaks in Israel and South Korea are related to schools, ” he said.

The Israeli government was forced to close down schools again on June 3 after a whopping 2,026 students, teachers and staff members tested positive for Covid-19.

South Korea had also experienced a resurgence of cases in various locations, including schools.

Teachers, Dr Amar said, must lead by example and that the standard operating procedure must be strictly followed.

“Some parents went to have a look at the schools, and they say that there was not a single person wearing a mask, people were milling about and some teachers were teaching without a mask.

“So that makes it a high-risk environment, ” he said.

He said however that for younger children, it may be difficult to enforce such a ruling.

“They shouldn’t wear it if they’re under two, and for children between ages two and five, it is also very difficult.

“If they are fiddling with the mask all the time, that’s very dangerous because they may be contaminating it with their hands.

“We can start with school-going children; they should be bright enough to use it.

“For preschool children, we will have to see and leave it to the capabilities of the child, ” he said.

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mask , covid-19 , mandatory , schools


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