Wearing face masks outside a clinical setting can actually be counterproductive against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Maltese health experts have warned.
“The ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] doesn’t recommend masks for use outside a clinical setting,” Prof. Michael Borg, infection control officer at Mater Dei, told a press conference.
“First of all, some people are wearing masks over the chins, which may look good but which doesn’t cover the nose and mouth. However, even if you wear it properly, it will bother you after you after a few minutes and you’ll end up touching it, which means you’ll actually end up touching your mouth and nose more often.”
“Our most important advice to citizens is to wash your hands properly and regularly.”
Prof. Borg and other medical experts delivered a press conference at Mater Dei this morning to provide an update on the state of play after Malta was hit with its first three cases of the coronavirus last weekend.
Charles Mallia Azzopardi, a physician at the Infectious Disease Unit, said the three patients, a 12-year-old Italian girl and her parents, are in a “very good condition” and are being treated by a very dedicated group of medics.
Several tests have been carried out, but no one besides these patients have tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, around 200 doctors and hundreds of nurses and ancillary staff have received specialised training and a fresh consignment of protective clothing is set to arrive at Mater Dei later on today.
Prof. Borg said he is confident the hospital is well-equipped to deal with a potential outbreak of the virus and that the personal protective equipment being utilised by their staff is identical to that used by medics in Hong Kong.
“In some countries, healthcare workers ended up getting infected by COVID-19 too, but not a single healthcare worker has been infected in Hong Kong, even though it has had several COVID patients. Their personal protective equipment is identical to others and we’re confident in the methods we’re using.”