Ugandan govt to ban public use of N95 respirators, surgical masks

surgical mask and N95 respirato
A surgical mask (L) and an N95 respirator (R).

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Government of Uganda is restricting the buying and selling of surgical masks and N95 respirators on the open market.

As the country gears towards a mass wearing of face masks, the N95 brand will be reserved for health workers and persons in highly contagious settings. The type reduces the exposure by filtering out at least 95 per cent of particles in the air.

Speaking on Wednesday 20th, May 2020 at the Uganda Media Centre, Dr Monica Musenero, the Senior Presidential Advisor on epidemics said that the massive use of these N95 masks might have a run on medical facilities and quarantine centres where they are badly needed.

Reports have indicated that supplies of medical masks are running critically low as countries battle a lethal strain of coronavirus disease.

Musenero also warned the public from buying masks from vendors, she said due to poor handling, it’s very likely that they are already contaminated. She said they have also observed that some people try masks on and then return it to the vendors which are very risky.

“Most of these masks fit everybody, therefore even if you don’t try it on, it will fit you. But after buying please first wash it and iron before you start using it,” Musenero called upon the people to use locally made reusable masks for as long as they are of the right quality. For mask manufacturers, she said they should start packing these masks to reduce the chances of contamination.

“Make sure that the mask is made of cotton, it has two layers of the fabric because a single layer is not as protective and it does not allow you to do the necessary modifications,” Musenero said. She added that the masks should also have a pocket where you can put a filter like tissue so that it gives protection to both the user and public.

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“A filter helps to filter the air coming out and also absorbs moisture so that the mask doesn’t get wet because when it does, it becomes dangerous to use,” Musenero said. For people with diseases that make it hard for them to breathe, Musenero said these should continue with the lockdown.

This week, President Museveni ordered for a compulsory use of masks by everybody from the age of six years for as long as they are in public. He added that his government was to distribute these masks for free and it’s after this, that the country will be opened up including the use of public transport.