A woman shows a face mask she made in a workshop, during the coronavirus outbreak, in Bangkok, Thailand. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Medical mask shortage has driven Thailand health authorities to promote the use of homemade cloth masks among its public who are scrambling to fortify their defenses against the growing infection.
On Thursday, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health reported 11 additional cases, a sudden jump that raised the total number of viral patients to 70 with one death so far.
Now that medical masks have become scarce, about 225 million baht ($7 million) worth of budget has been set aside to manufacture 50 million cloth masks for nationwide distribution.
Amidst the newly-labeled pandemic virus and daily surging cases, the panic is on the rise across the globe and so is the inexplicable, probably apocalyptic-induced, urge to stockpile hygiene products.
Last month, the Thai government withheld supplies of sanitizers and surgical masks to release them at a fixed price in an attempt to correct skyrocketing demand and low supply.
Panpimon Wipulakorn, Director-General of the Health Department, guaranteed the protective fabric barrier was enough to block coughing or sneezing droplets, five microns large, from infected persons, given that cloth masks can withstand particles bigger than one micron.
Another spokesperson from the Department of Medical Sciences advertised the benefits of a muslin mask, the most suitable for homemade manufacturing, encouraging people to embark on do-it-yourself initiatives rather than exhaust the nation’s medical supplies.
Though cloth masks may be more sustainable than single-use surgical ones, authorities warned that basic hand hygiene still took precedence.
Global health authorities like the World Health Organisation (WHO) prefer a thorough scrubbing of hands with soap over hoarding an endless supply of surgical masks to prevent COVID-19.
An excerpt from WHO’s interim guide on the outbreak reads: “Cloth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance.”
Regardless of the dubious value of cloth masks, the government-endorsed action might subdue communal alarm as the people are given some tangible hope to hold on to rather than nothing.
As per a Mayo Clinic expert, wearing masks is not a foolproof way of protecting yourself from the disease. Washing hands thoroughly and frequently, in addition to resisting touching your face will shield you better.
In a Twitter thread, Dr. Richard Davis posted photographs of an experiment he conducted to illustrate exactly how wearing a face mask blocks germs from transmitting between two people.
The health group and a number of experts have stated that face coverings must be replaced if they become damp and urged government officials to provide the public with “clear advice” about wearing masks during wet weather.
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