Does it Fit?: Ugandans want to try COVID-19 face masks on before buying

Mandatori waring of face masks - Uganda
President Yoweri Museveni’s measure for the mandatory wearing of face masks for anyone going in public remains largely ignored as many people have shunned the protective gear.

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Ministry of Health has warned that persons who do not comply with a directive on wearing face masks will be apprehended. The caution comes a day after the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng signed an instrument to enforce the compulsory wearing of masks in public places.

Although she did not spell out the exact punishment that awaits non compliance, the Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine told journalists on Wednesday 13th, that the public still needs guidance on the most effective type, the cost friendliness and what type fits who.

Many areas in Kampala have been invaded by vendors of face masks especially in areas where enforcement has started for instance at Kawempe National Referral, the Ag. Deputy Director Dr Lawrence Kazibwe told this publication that they have had to seek the intervention of the City Council authorities to rid their entrance of vendors but they haven’t been successful in having them off.

Other places where vendors are common are areas near police checkpoints and markets who mostly deal in cloth masks. According to Atwine, those are the most appropriate especially that we might have to wear masks for a long time as the pandemic continues.

She says disposable masks may not be a choice with the inconvenience of having to buy all the time, calling upon the population to adopt fabric masks that can be washed and re-used. She says people also need to consider those that fit their facial shapes.

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But the Ministry notes that they are receiving reports that people buying from vendors are trying on masks before choosing, something that is likely to further spread the disease.

On the market, cloth masks go for as low as 1,000 Shillings whereas the disposable masks mostly sold in pharmacies and dispensaries go for 3,000 Shillings. The more sophisticated N95 masks that is recommended to be used in the hospital setting while dealing with infectious diseases, they go for about 25,000.

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Dr. Atwine says that in the current state, they are recommending cloth masks even for health workers at facilities that are not dealing with active cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease as long as these have two layers of cloth that can trap the pathogens.