Take extra caution as face mask policy is on

Tuesday May 19 2020

Compliance. Women  wear masks they purchased

Compliance. Women  wear masks they purchased from vendors in Wandegeya, Kampala, on May 6. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By Editor

The government last week announced that, starting today, everyone would be required to wear a facemask for as long as they are outside their homes to protect against Covid-19 virus. The gear helps shield one from droplets from another person who may be infected.

Whereas the directives to have the facemasks on are with good intention and for all the right reasons, more sensitisation should be done.

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a learning curve; many things unprecedented and people, including government, have learnt on the job. The masks business is one of them.

The policy is not unique to us. More than 60 countriesworldwide that have lifted lockdowns now require people to cover their faces when they leave home, especially on public transport and in shops.

However, in some countries, the rules are not always adhered to, either for lack of money or availability or because of scepticism over efficiency of masks. There are people who can barely afford meals due to the effects of the lockdown and buying the protective gear might be a tall order.

The government announced that some companies, including Nytil Textiles Ltd, were already manufacturing reusable masks and each piece on retail market would go for about Shs2,000.

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This is economically viable for many Ugandans. But how shall we be protected from fake masks that could already be on the market?

Many wear dirty masks because they are exposed to dust and heat while on duty for long hours. Won’t there be respiratory illnesses as a result of wearing a dirty mask for long?

How many masks are ideal for a day for a busy person like a security officer, boda boda rider, market vendor or journalist? The public needs a lot more information.

In its guidelines, the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) says facemasks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Be careful not to touch eyes, nose, and mouth and wash hands immediately after removing it.

A good mask, CDC says, should fit comfortably against the side of the face, include multiple layers of fabric, and allow for breathing without restriction.

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards has issued standards for all firms manufacturing facemasks and that they should seek clearance to enforce quality. Let the authorities ensure that this is followed to the letter.

To the rest, fulfill your end of the bargain by correctly wearing the facemasks at all times. No one really needs nenforcement officers to force them to wear the gear.

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