Mbabane: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has once again said there is no evidence that wearing a mask protects you from contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus, but it supports the decisions of governments who recommend the practice.
It did state, however, that masks assist in reducing the spread of COVID-19 when worn by those displaying symptoms of the virus.
This follows uncertainty which arose around wearing personal protection equipment in South Africa, due to conflicting information from provincial and national health departments.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s guidance on wearing masks also conflicted with previous from the WHO.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr Simon Zwane strongly warned emaSwati against putting on face masks when they are alone.
Zwane was speaking on Tuesday, when the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) was making a donation of a bedding worth over E300 000 to the Ministry of Health which would be used by COVID-19 patients at Mavuso Exhibition and Trade Centre.
Zwane said people should wear masks when going to or at public places. He said masks disturb the functioning of the lungs especially those who put them on when jogging. “There is also no need to wear a mask when one is alone is a car, adding that it has been reported in other countries that people had died because of wearing masks.
The PS said it is not easy to get accustomed to the wearing of a mask, but we have to do so when going to public places. “People should not be worried when seeing someone walking alone without wearing a mask but they should be worried when there is someone next to you without the mask,” he said.
The WHO previously said that surgical or medical masks cannot protect against the spread of the coronavirus on their own, and there is no evidence that they protect those who do not have the virus.
WHO health emergencies programme executive director Mike Ryan told USNews the WHO was having an open debate on the subject of wearing masks.
However, it still officially recommends that only people who are sick or taking care of others who are sick at home wear masks.
“We can certainly see circumstances in which the use of masks, both homemade or cloth masks, at the community level may help in an overall, comprehensive response to this disease,” Ryan said.
“And we will support governments in making those decisions based on the situation they find themselves in terms of transmission, based on the context in which they’re dealing and the resources that they have at their disposal.”
He said that masks do not protect the person wearing them, but they do prevent sick people from spreading the virus.
“The evidence is quite clear that the wearing of a mask in public doesn’t necessarily protect you, but if a sick person wears a mask, then it is less likely that they may infect others.”
Eswatini Government has been stressing the wearing of masks, importance of social distancing, hand-washing, and good hygiene practice to protect against the spread of the virus.
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