Masking dilemma as Covid cases rise

Ravin Palanisamy

Some people only use masks in crowded and enclosed areas. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 26, 2023

MANY Malaysians remain uncertain about whether to wear masks as Covid-19 cases rise.

Some told to The Malaysian Insight that masks are no longer mandatory while others said they will take all precautions to prevent infection.

Mohd Thaufiq, 37, said he stopped using masks at the start of the year, noting the drop in coronavirus cases and the severity of the infections.

“Based on the Health Ministry’s report, the cases now are still under control, with those affected only experiencing mild cases.

“Which means, even if I’m infected, I can likely recover.

“But the possibility of getting infected is there with or without a mask. So, I’m not very much bothered,” said Thaufiq, who said he had been infected with Covid-19 twice since the onset of the pandemic.

According to V. Suren, 30, there is no longer any significance in using a mask.

“I see those who use masks are removing them at times. They can get infected then.

“Yes, It is a preventative measure but as long as there is no directive from the government to make them mandatory again, we don’t have to panic,” said the father of one.

Malaysia is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases, which the Health Ministry (MOH) expects to continue over Christmas and New Year.

Data on MOH’s KKMNow portal showed that active Covid-19 cases have surpassed 33,000, with 94.8% of them under home quarantine.

Newly-appointed Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad last week during his first press conference on Covid-19 situation said the ministry had a five-point strategy to tackle the spike.

The five points were early detection via a heightened alert system, community tracing via TRIIS (test, report, isolate, inform and seek), health facility monitoring and control of Covid-19 cases especially among high-risk groups, community empowerment through effective risk communication, and digitisation of the health system via MySejahtera.

However, the government has not made masks mandatory nor reinstated checking-in with the MySejahtera app.

Saiful Akthar, meanwhile, said he only uses masks in crowded and enclosed areas, as he has been doing since the pandemic started.

“I’ll wear it in enclosed areas and crowded places like trains, malls, etc.

“But despite that, I’ve been infected with Covid-19 twice. However, I just continue the practice of using masks in crowded, confined or enclosed areas,” the 28-year-old said.

Subashini, 40, has been using masks since the start of the pandemic.

Data on MOH’s KKMNow portal shows that active Covid-19 cases have surpassed 33,000, with 94.8% of them under home quarantine. – EPA pic, December 26, 2023

“Nowadays, I cannot imagine stepping out of the house without a mask.

“I always wear them and have stock in my car and handbag. It’s a necessity, like a hand sanitiser, which I still carry with me,” she said.

Subashini, who is a caterer business, said wearing a mask also helps in her work.

Carol Wong, 58, also said she still spends money on masks.

“Well, I’m old and need to take care of my health as I have underlying medical conditions.

“So, wherever I go, I use a mask and whenever I receive guests at home, I continue to use them,” she said.

Mazlin, meanwhile, said she sees the need for a mask with the number of cases rising.

The mother of two said she had stopped using masks when the number of infections dropped significantly and with the government easing all restrictions.

However, she said she would resume using them despite no order from the ministry.

“This is for our safety. Better to use masks as the cases are rising.

“This in a way secures us from getting exposed to the virus. We also need to adhere to other safety aspects like sanitising as well as maintaining good hygiene.

“So, in light of the rise in Covid cases, the ministry should consider reinstating the mask mandate until the cases reduce again,” the single mother from Setapak said. – December 27, 2023

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