Malaysians will not be allowed to ditch their face masks any time soon despite the dip in number of Covid-19 infections, as the government says the practice will be part of other compulsory SOPs.
Deputy Health Minister II Aaron Ago Dagang cited a study on SOP compliance conducted by the health ministry’s research division in October which found that 95% of respondents were still practising health measures and strongly agreed that the new norms should be continued.
He also referred to an article issued by the University of Texas on Jan 26 stating that the use of face masks could reduce infection through respiratory fluids in both lab and clinical studies.
“However, the use of face masks must be accompanied by compliance with SOPs such as physical distancing and frequent hand washing,” he said during the oral question time in the Dewan Rakyat.
“Therefore, both these methods should be part of the new norm for every individual even though Malaysia has transitioned to the endemic phase. This needs to be continued.”
He was responding to Mohamaddin Ketapi (Bersatu-Lahad Datu) who asked when the health ministry would loosen restrictions such as the wearing of face masks and physical distancing given that a number of countries in Europe, especially in the UK, no longer require the use of face masks.
But Aaron stressed the importance of adhering to SOPs in light of the new Omicron variant.
“Countries like the US and UK are urging their citizens to increase the use of face masks and physical distancing,” he said.
He also said that 3,011 people had been issued compounds for failing to wear a face mask while 3,080 had been fined for not observing a minimum safe distance.