‘Using mask alone not a guarantee to stop infections’


Dr Murtaza Qasuri

KUCHING: On the importance of wearing a face mask during the Covid-19 outbreak, Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals Sdn Bhd (Mundipharma Pharmaceuticals) highlights that this alone is not guaranteed to stop infections.

According to South East Asia Medical head and medical director of Singapore and Malaysia Dr Murtaza Qasuri, wearing a medical mask can help limit the spread of some respiratory diseases.

“However, using a mask alone is not guaranteed to stop infections and should be combined with other prevention measures including hand and respiratory hygiene,” Qasuri said in an email interview with The Borneo Post.

“In my opinion, the face mask is also good to prevent us from touching our mouth and nose regularly, as our hands might be exposed to touching surfaces with bacteria

“The World Health Organization (WHO) advises on rational use of medical masks thus avoiding unnecessary wastage of precious resources and potential misuse of masks

“This means using masks only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have suspected Covid-19 infection with mild symptoms or are caring for someone with suspected Covid-19 infection.”

Qasuri advised that everyone should stay away from crowded places if possible, to decrease the risk of being exposed on Covid-19.

He also revealed that older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, should take extra precautions to protect themselves.

“Type 2 diabetes causes white blood cells to function less effectively, there by impairing the immune system to combat any infections.

“If human lungs aren’t able to expand adequately due to pre-existing conditions like lung fibrosis or COPD, then that makes it harder to get oxygen into them.

“If lungs are filled with fluid due to infection, then they have to work much harder for oxygen to be absorbed.

“The reduction of oxygen intake by the lungs affects the oxygen delivery to heart which can dysfunction and complicate into severe illness with high chance of mortality.”

On the difference between having a common flu or cold and having Covid-19, Qasuri highlighted that people with Covid-19 typically develop respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and runny nose.

“The symptoms are similar to a common flu or cold, even though it is caused by a different infection.

“It would be difficult to identify the disease based on symptoms alone, that why I should advice people who have cough, fever and difficulty breathing should seek medical care early.

“Patients should be honest with their health care providers by informing them if they have travelled in the 14 days before they developed symptoms, of if they have been in close contact with someone who has been sick with respiratory symptoms.”

On medication for Covid-19, Qasuri clarified that antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections.

“The novel coronavirus is a virus and antibiotics should not be used as means of prevention of treatment.”