By Duncan Mlanjira
Wearing of face masks in public places has now been declared mandatory after the Public Health (Corona Virus and Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Management Rules, 2020) has been gazetted in Parliament.
And failure to wear a mask in a public area attracts a fine of K10,000.
And this coincides with a declaration by World Health Organization (WHO), who has set aside 7th to 14th August as World Mask Week in an effort to raise awareness and promote the use of mask by the public.
In his situation report on Friday, co-chairperson of Presidential Taskforce Force on COVID-19, Dr. John Phuka says the decision by WHO is meant to break the chains of transmission and bringing the pandemic under control.
Other measures in the Corona Virus and Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Management Rules, 2020 will be communicated fully.
“Let me join the WHO to encourage the public to wear a cloth mask always whenever they are going into crowded places,” he said. “Those that are COVID-19 positive must self-isolate and put on a surgical mask always.
“Surgical masks must always be used when taking care of a COVID-19 suspected or positive patients both in health care setting and at home.
“Heath care workers and other frontline workers are advised to strictly follow the Infection Prevention and Control measures at all times.
“The use of face masks is part of a comprehensive package of the prevention and control measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19.
“Face masks can be used either to prevent transmitting the disease to others or to protect oneself.”
Dr. Phuka outlines some guidelines on how to wear and remove a mask:
• Clean your hands before putting on the mask.
• Inspect the mask for tears or holes, do not use a mask that is damaged.
• Adjust the mask to cover your mouth, nose, and chin, leaving no gaps on the sides.
• Avoid touching the mask while wearing it.
• Change your mask if it gets dirty or wet.
• Clean your hands before taking off the mask.
• Take off the mask by removing it from the ear loops, without touching the front of the mask.
• Medical masks are for single use only; discard the mask immediately, preferably into a closed bin. Do not liter
• Wash your hands with soap after removing the mask.
• If you are using a cloth mask, wash it in hot water using soap at least once a day.
In the situation report, Dr. Phuka said as of Friday, Malawi registered 84 new COVID-19 cases, 47 new recoveries, and no new death.
Of the new cases, 81 are locally transmitted infections and three are
imported infections, identified at the Songwe border during routine screening.
These imported cases include a resident of Lilongwe and two truck drivers — a Malawian based in Mzimba North and a Tanzanian heading to Lilongwe.
Of the locally transmitted infections, three are healthcare workers (one each from Chikwawa, Lilongwe and Mzuzu North), 36 are from Blantyre, 18 from Lilongwe, eight from Zomba and six from Mzimba North
Four of them are from Nkhata Bay, two from Chikwawa, and one each from Chiradzulu, Mulanje and Mwanza.
The report says cumulatively, Malawi has recorded 4,575 cases including 137 deaths. Of these cases, 1,024 are imported infections and 3,551 are locally transmitted.
Cumulatively, 2,184 cases have now recovered bringing the total number of active cases to 2,254.
The average age of the cases is 36.7 years, the youngest case being aged 1 month, the oldest being 93 years while 66.9% are male.
The country has so far conducted 34,051 COVID-19 tests in 45 COVID-19 testing sites.
“Remember, a mask alone cannot protect you from COVID-19 — it must be combined with other measures, including maintaining at least one-metre distance from each other, washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face while wearing a mask in order to prevent the human to human transmission.
“Wear a Mask, Stay safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19!” stresses Dr. Phuka.