Health experts recommend other precautions over wearing masks

A young woman wears a surgical mask. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Local health experts say it is unnecessary for the mass public to wear masks if they do not show symptoms of the novel coronavirus, and that there are other precautionary measures that are far more important.

The threat of the novel coronavirus which had claimed the lives of 159 in China and has spread accords the world, has led to people queueing at local pharmacies to purchase masks. This rise in demand for masks has resulted in a shortage of supply and a rise in prices at private pharmacies.

Dr. Ali Latheef, who joined Health Minister Abdulla Ameen in a press conference on Friday night, noted this phenomenon. He said that it was unnecessary for masks to be worn by anyone who wasn’t ill themselves.

“Even in hospitals, we have decided that masks will be worn in the ER, and areas where doctors have contact with a lot of patients. However, we do not recommend wearing masks as a standard precautionary measure for the mass public,” said Latheef, a prominent figure in internal medicine.

Dr. Abdulla Niyaf, a Pediatrician and Chief Medical Officer at ADK Hospital, too, opinioned that it was unnecessary to wear masks that the unexposed public do not need to wear masks.


He recommended frequent handwashing with soap and water or the use of hand sanitizers as the most important precaution.

Other precautionary measures he recommended:

  • Avoiding mass public gatherings.
  • Avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals.
  • Developing the habit of covering coughs and sneezes into tissues and disposing of used tissues safety into dustbins.
  • Avoiding spitting or blowing noses in public.

He also advised those who have flu-like symptoms to remain at home and avoid contact with others, while looking after themselves and seeking medical attention if they need it.

Meanwhile, those who have flu-like symptoms who cannot avoid going out into public have been advised to wear masks, but to dispose of them after single use.

Those who returned from a recent trip to China or had close contact with anyone who recently came from China and show symptoms of the novel coronavirus have been advised to contact Health Protection Agency (HPA) through its hotline 7377004, before seeking medical attention at a local hospital or clinic.