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Govt mulls new face masks guidelines for elderly and vulnerable

People aged over 60 years and individuals with underlying medical conditions will now be required to wear medical masks in public if the Ministry of Health adopts new guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Ministry of Health is set to roll out home-based care management, Covid-19 patients and home caregivers will also wear the N95 medical masks that have been for used exclusively by health care personnel.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary CAS Dr Rashid Aman on Monday said the directive, which is yet to be adopted, is in line with WHO new guidelines on masking.

“There are particular risks and it is best that these people stay at home with their families and of course the family should also be Covid-19 free and in such a setting then they do not need the mask but once they step outside where there is close physical interactions then they need the N95,” Aman advised.

Those with underlying conditions

According to the CAS, WHO has issued new guidelines which require those above 60 years and those with underlying conditions to wear the N95 masks when in public places due to their low immunity.

“This applies to caregivers of patients under the home-based program as well,” he said.

The CAS said the elderly and those with weakened immune systems remain at a higher risk and should stay at home adding that the medical masks are most effective in areas where there’s community transmission of the virus and physical distancing is impossible.

Dr Aman said the government was still analysing the recommendations by WHO and if it decides to adopt them, it will provide the medical masks to those affected.

“Every country will have to look at the guidelines carefully and see what it can implement in terms of provision of masks to the populations,” he added.

Already there is a global shortage of the expensive N95 medical masks.

WHO says new information showed they could provide “a barrier for potentially infectious droplets”.