Everyone should wear face masks: Mkhize

10 April 2020 - 15:37 By Matthew Savides
Eugene Amuri, a vendor at the Kimironko market, wears a handmade "kitenge" cloth mask as he attempts to protect himself against Covid-19, in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 17 2020.
Eugene Amuri, a vendor at the Kimironko market, wears a handmade "kitenge" cloth mask as he attempts to protect himself against Covid-19, in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 17 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Maggie Andresen

The call is now clear: every South African should wear a mask.

And, said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday, they can be homemade, made of cloth or even just a carefully folded handkerchief.

“Wearing masks is important,” he said. “We want to recommend widespread use of masks. We are recommending that people can use cloth masks, just make sure there’s a three-layer kind of thing.”

Using a piece of paper as an example, he said a handkerchief could be folded in such a way that there were three layers of cloth.

“We’d like to reserve the specialised masks ... for those who are dealing with intense infections in hospitals,” he said.

Mask wearing would be crucially important when the lockdown was lifted, particularly as people ventured out to use public transport and into crowded areas.

“It’s a new culture we have to learn.

“Our scientists are saying they have evidence that anyone who has Covid-19, if they wear masks, the level of excretion of the virus exhaled is much, much, much reduced. There is evidence that with a mask we can actually protect the next person from getting the infection,” said Mkhize.

He said it was vital that the masks were washed frequently and that they mustn’t be touched frequently.

Hand washing, coughing and sneezing into the elbow, and other general hygiene needed to go hand in hand with the masks.

“It’s not one versus the other. It’s everything together,” he said.


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