The minister for Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has issued guidelines the general public must adhere to following a presidential directive on compulsory use of masks in the fight against COVID-19.
In a nation address she made today, Dr Aceng said the guidelines will be translated into local languages and disseminated to regions, up to village health teams in all districts of Uganda to ensure all Ugandans are sensitized before the announced phased lifting of the lockdown starts on 26th May 2020.
She said there are 2 types of masks on Ugandan market. Medical and non medical;
Medical masks: N95, KN95 and surgical masks should be preserved for health worker in health facilities and they are not re-usable.
These are not reusable, highly contaminated by various infectious organisms since they are used in medical environments.
The general community is advised to wear non- medical masks made out of fabric specifically cotton masks. It should be 2-layered with a filter material like paper towel or Polypropylene. She said tissue or any other filter material can be used as a filter for use in a mask.
The masks recommended by MOH must be two-layered with a filter material which should be inserted every morning. The masks must be washed and ironed.
Protective use of a double cloth mask with a filter material is over 95% according to a report by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC).
All adults should wear a mask and children above 6 years. People with breathing difficulties should seek advice from health personnel before use of masks.
Children between 2 and 6 years should wear masks under close supervision because they are very active and may not be able to take care of the masks or observe hygiene.
Children bellow 2 years should not put on masks because of their small lung capacity.
Masks must be worn whenever one is going to public places; Markets, Supermarkets, Places of worship, Workplaces, Shops, Classrooms, public transport, healthcare facilities and other areas where acceptable social distancing may not be possible.
Those with cough, colds, sore throat are also required to wear masks even while they are at home.
Do not wear a mask when running, jogging or doing physical exercises.
It is not necessary to wear a mask when one is driving in a car alone, but have it ready for a passenger or when you are stepping out of a car.
Putting on a mask, one should hold on to the straps or loops and place it over the mouth covering the nose and chin.
Avoid touching the front and the inner side of the mask; the front side is susceptible to contamination with bacteria and germs while the inside part because it is where you breath from.
The mask should be kept on every time one is talking and removed completely when one is going to eat or drink.
In case one touches the front and the inner side of the mask, one should immediately sanitize and wash hands with water and soap.
Removing the mask, hold the straps, fold it with the inner side inside and keep it in a clean container such as an envelope or hang it on a nail or hook in such a way that it does not touch any surface.
The mask does not remove the need for other precautions against COVID-19 but only compliments other precautions including sanitizing and maintaining social distancing.
Ensure your mask cover mouth, chin and nose.
Wash and dry masks as well as filters daily. Remove the filter and wash it separately before washing and keep them in a dry and clean environment.
Observe hand hygiene after handling the masks. Touching another person’s mask is potentially risky and requires immediate washing of hands.
Avoid the use of air conditioning in cars, public places, offices during this period of COVID-19. A well ventilated place with free air circulation natural is recommended.
MOH will publish specifications for one to buy or produce masks either homemade or factory made.
The public is advised to ensure that masks must be sealed before they buy them. Do not share masks even with family members. Do not buy masks from streets.
Wearing masks is mandatory in Uganda as per the president’s directive and a statutory instrument has been created to legally bind everyone to wear a mask while in public.