Health Minister Recommends Wearing Cloth Masks in Public


In a statement on Friday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize asked South Africans to wear cloth masks rather than using medical masks which are reserved for healthcare workers.

Mkhize said, “The public should not wear medical masks. These are reserved as personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers, who are on the front line of our battle against COVID-19. Our healthcare workers need medical-grade masks and respirators to stay healthy so they can save the lives of people who have COVID-19. Let us give them the tools to fight that battle,”

“We are satisfied that there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that the cloth face mask significantly reduces the amount of virus that can be emitted.”

Mkhize continued to say that wearing a mask in public places can help slow the spread of the coronavirus, but that other hygiene measures were also crucial.

“Even when wearing a mask, hand-washing and social distancing remain the most important interventions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Cloth masks are easy and not expensive to make, reusable and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by acting as a shield to contain the respiratory droplets through which the virus spreads,” said Mkhize.

Recommended handling of face masks

  • Avoid touching the mask or your face while you are out.
  • When you get back home, wash the mask with soap and water immediately without using chemicals and wash your hands again.
  • After washing masks they should be ironed or left out in the sun to dry. Ironing assists with decontamination.
  • You should not share your mask with anybody else.
  • It is preferable that every person has two masks so they can be interchanged during washes.
  • Remember not to handle the inside layer of the mask when taking it off or putting it on. 
  • The face-mask must cover the nose and mouth completely.
  • Face-mask shouldn’t be lowered when speaking, coughing or sneezing.