Masking up still a preference for Malaysians

73-year-old Ann Chong said, she would even put on a face mask at home if her husband was having a cough.


Better safe than sorry: Most passengers on a local bus in George Town, Penang still prefer wearing masks in public. — K.T. GOH/The Star

July 6, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – The face mask ruling is off, but many people are still using face masks in hospitals and on public transport.

Among them were Ann Chong and her husband Soo Hoe Ong, both 73, who said they were now used to wearing face masks in enclosed areas.

“We take the bus once in a while to ‘ronda’ (roam about) in the city after getting restless sitting at home.

“We take extra precautionary measures like masking up in enclosed places, especially on the bus which can be crowded at times.

“Despite the changes in the standard operating procedure (SOP), people will still wear their face masks,” said the retired sub-editor.

Chong said she would even put on a face mask at home if her husband was having a cough.

She added that both of them had not contracted Covid-19 and would like to keep it that way.

“I’ll put on a face mask when I go to the hospital and I’ll make sure I wear a new one upon leaving the place,” she said.

College students Tan Shian Chyn, 23, and Gan Si Ki, 22, said they were used to wearing face masks in outdoor settings.

“We will still wear it whenever we board a bus as it is always better to be safe than sorry.

“We need to protect ourselves as the virus is still out there.

“Also, it looks odd without wearing face masks in public nowadays. After all, we have been doing this for a few years,” said Tan when met at the Komtar Bus Terminal yesterday.

Penang Hospital translator B. Premala, 66, said she would put on a face mask at work as she fell under the high-risk category.

“I have diabetes and high-blood pressure, which makes it dangerous if I were to contract Covid-19.

“There are Covid-19 patients who come to hospital every day. Although we will be told to move away, it is still unsafe if I do not wear my mask.

“I used to double mask but it messes with my breathing.

“Even now with my four-ply mask, there were times when I had breathing difficulties. But it is still safer doing that than getting Covid-19,” she said.

Lee Song Hin, 71, who has been running a pharmacy along Penang Road for the past 30 years, said demand for face masks had gone down over the course of six months.

“The demand has seen a gradual decline and now with the changes in SOP, I expect it to go down further.

“Many people have stopped wearing masks and there are some who buy it online.

“As we still have balance stock for now, we will not make new orders.

“There are days when we still have people walking in specifically to buy a box of face masks, usually the foreign tourists,” he said.

Lee said there would still be demand for such items as masking up was still compulsory at certain places.

“I guess some places would still impose their own SOP.

“One of the banks still gave me a face mask when I went in the other day.

“We will just finish our stocks as the shelf life for masks is two years,” he added.

It was also recently reported that effective yesterday, the isolation period for Covid-19 patients had been shortened from seven to five days.

This was in view of studies which showed that infectivity was high in the first five days from the onset of symptoms when the viral load was high, said Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She also said that the wearing of face masks would no longer be compulsory on public transport and in hospitals.

However, she said that people with respiratory symptoms were encouraged to mask up to avoid spreading infections on public transport.

Also, Covid-19 positive individuals and those handling them are required to wear face masks in healthcare facilities.

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