KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — The government is distributing four free face masks to each household in Malaysia, Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced today amid the Covid-19 epidemic.
The senior defence minister said, however, that as per Ministry of Health (MOH) guidelines, only those with symptoms, like coughing and sneezing, need to wear face masks.
“The masks that are being distributed are not from donations; the government bought them all for the people,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference.
He said the distribution process has already started, with some face masks already at the district level.
“Some states, like Sabah and Sarawak, we’ll send to them. Some have already reached the districts; we’re waiting for frontliners to distribute them to all households.”
According to Ismail Sabri, authorities will distribute 24.62 million face masks through the national disaster management committees at the district level, where frontliners will subsequently send them to households.
However, Malaysia had an estimated 32.6 million-population last year, comprising 29.4 million Malaysian citizens and 3.2 million non-citizens.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force will send face mask supplies to Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan this Friday, where the items will be delivered to districts and subsequently to homes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reportedly said last week it may change its recommendation on mask use, after it considers new research that coronavirus can be projected further than initially thought — 6m from coughs and up to 8m from sneezes — which surpasses the current concept of one-metre social distancing.
The Singapore government also said last week that it would no longer discourage people from wearing masks and would distribute reusable masks to all households.