Don’t reuse disposable face masks, says doctors’ group

The wearing of face masks is compulsory for certain sectors under the recovery movement control order.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association has urged the public not to reuse disposable face masks but instead opt for reusable cloth face masks that are also widely sold.

MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said the public should make proper use of disposable and reusable face masks.

“Disposable face masks should only be worn once and disposed of after use while the reusable cloth face mask should be washed and dried before being used again,” he said.

“Make sure to invest in a good quality reusable face mask. Thin fabric will not give sufficient protection,” he said.

Recently, the government gave the green light for public transport to operate at full capacity again although safety measures such as temperature checks and the wearing of face masks will still be enforced.

Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said carpooling would also be allowed, with those from different households permitted to share the same vehicle. However, the number of passengers will still be limited to the capacity of the vehicle.

“Everyone must also wear a face mask in the car,” he said.

An expert in preventive medicine from Universiti Malaya (UM), Dr Moy Foong Ming, said a disposable surgical face mask could only be reused if it was worn for a short period of time and was not wet or damaged.

To reuse the face mask, she said, the wearer must only touch the ear straps to remove it and use a household electric hair dryer to blow the mask for 30 minutes.

“Alternatively, you can also air out the mask for 24 to 48 hours, which would ensure the viruses would no longer be viable,” she said.

Moy agreed with the government’s decision to enforce the use of a face mask.

”In the event social distancing is not possible in crowded places and public transport such as on buses and LRT, wearing a mask is strongly recommended,” she said.

She said those who could not afford disposable face masks could opt for washable ones but that they must be aware that the filtering effect was poorer than that of the disposable face mask.

“However, a cloth face mask would still protect others, especially if the wearers are asymptomatic Covid-19 patients,” she said.

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