Wear masks only if you’re ill, says deputy minister

Face masks should be worn only by those with fever, cough and cold, says Dr Lee Boon Chye.

IPOH: People with no symptoms of the deadly Wuhan virus should not be anxious if they do not wear face masks at public places, deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said today.

Dr Lee Boon Chye is deputy minister of health.

He said people who had a fever, cold and cough should wear the masks so as not to infect others. “If they do not have symptoms, they do not have to wear the masks for protection. It is not necessarily effective against infection,” he said.

“To avoid infection, what is most important is to wash the hands often, using soap and detergent. If you do not wear masks properly and touch your face, then there is a risk of infection,” he told reporters here after attending a Chinese New Year celebration by the Perak Chinese Assembly Hall.

Lee who is MP for Gopeng, said there would be public panic if the government made wearing of masks compulsory for the public. There might even possibly lead to calls to close down public places.

“Do we need to cancel all assemblies, close down schools, cinemas? This will result in unwarranted panic,” he said.

So far eight people, all China nationals, have been found to be infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), with 183 patients under investigation, and tests results awaited on 18 others.