Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar gave a simple test for the effectiveness of a face mask against infections, during a question-and-answer session at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Al-‘Afiah Hall yesterday.
‘‘You should do a test when you have a fabric mask. If you can feel your breath passing through the material when blowing on it, then it won’t offer you much protection,” he said.
“The idea of wearing a face mask is to prevent you from infecting other people, rather than you being infected.
“The Ministry of Health is continuously reminding the public to wear face masks only when they have symptoms such as coughing and the flu; and they must wear the masks if they need to go out. But it is up to the public if they want to wear the masks.
“However, from the Ministry of Health’s point of view, we want to control the use of face masks. As stocks are limited, we don’t want the masks to be used unnecessarily. At the same time, we want to save them for our frontliners, since they are the ones who really need the masks. If we don’t control the use of face masks, there won’t be any left for our frontliners.
“The surgical mask has three layers (three-ply), which could protect someone if they are having a flu or cough. But the problem of wearing a face mask is that we tend to keep touching it repeatedly in adjusting it.
“The outer part of the mask tends to collect droplets from other people. If we touch the mask, gradually it will infect our hands, and if you touch your eyes, they will also become infected.
“So if you wear a mask, you need to be careful and keep reminding yourself not to touch the mask,” he advised.