The Ministry of Health (MoH) has directed the use of face masks in all public places where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing.
The Ministry in a statement said the directive was pursuant to section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851). Section 170 (1) of the Act provides that the Minister of Health may order an individual to take a preventive measure in respect of public health matters.
“The general public is encouraged to wear mask or face covering when going out whether sick or not or attending to a sick person,” the statement said.
The statement also named persons or groups of persons who are required at all times to wear masks. They are;
Food vendors and sellers at markets
commercial vehicle drivers and attendants
commuters on public transports
persons in public and commercial centres
facilities and buildings including but not limited to offices, bars, workshops, restaurants
sports arenas and spas
clinics and hospitals
all other facilities accessible to the public whether privately or publicly owned.
The Ministry also warned against the incorrect use of masks which it says carries a high risk of infection. To avoid contamination, infection or transmission of the virus, the following instructions were provided by the MoH:
1. Procedures for wearing and removing a mask;
Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-base sanitizer before putting on a mask
b. Ensure that your mask fully covers your mouth and nose with no gaps between your face and the mask.
c. Avoid touching the mask after you have won it.
d. Remove a mask by passing a finger through the loop of the mask behind one ear and lift off without touching the front of the mask. NEVER TOUCH THE FRONT OF THE MASK.
2. Changing and disposing of mask
a. Do not use the mask for more than 12 hours at a time.
b. Replace the mask immediately it is damp or soiled.
c. When using a reusable mask prepare a soap or bleach lathered water and drop the mask directly into it on removing. Leave in the water for five (5) minutes before washing. Rinse, dry and iron before reuse.
d. Do not re-use single-use surgical masks more than twice or N95 masks more than three times
e. Dispose all used masks in a closed bin or burn it in a safe place
Wash hands immediately with soap and water, where available apply alcohol-based sanitizer after disposal.