The Minister of Health, as part of measures to prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 in public, has directed that citizens wear face masks in all public places, where it might be difficult to maintain the social distancing protocol.
It encouraged everyone to wear a mask or face covering when going out, whether sick or not, or attending to a sick person.
A statement signed by Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service for the Minister of Health and copied to the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, also directed food vendors and sellers at markets, commercial vehicle drivers and attendants, commuters on public transport, persons in public and commercial centres, facilities and buildings, including but not limited to offices, bars, workshops, and restaurants to wear the masks at all times.
"Pursuant to Section 169 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), the Minister responsible for Health by Executive Instrument (E.I.61) declared Covid-19 a public health emergency," it said.
"Section 170 (1) of the Act provides that the Minister of Health may order an individual to take a preventive measure in respect of public health matters.
"This directive is hereby given in compliance with the aforementioned".
The directive also affects persons in sports arenas and spas, saloons, shopping malls, churches, clinics and hospitals, and all other facilities accessible to the public whether privately or publicly owned.
To avoid contamination, infection or transmission of the virus, it entreated everyone to clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer before putting their masks on.
They should also ensure that the masks fully covered the mouth and nose, with no gaps between the face and the mask.
It also advised the public to avoid touching the masks after wearing them and remove them by passing a finger through the loop of the mask behind one ear and lifting it off without touching the front of the mask.
On changing and disposing of the masks, the statement advised the public to desist from using them for more than 12 hours at a time, and replace them, immediately they became damp or soiled.
“When using a reusable mask, prepare a soapy or bleach lathered water and drop the mask directly into it on removing, " it advised.
"Leave in the water for five minutes before washing. Rinse, dry and iron before reuse.
“Do not reuse single use surgical masks more than twice or N95 masks more than three times.
"Also, dispose of all used masks in a closed bin or burn them in a safe place. Wash hands immediately with soap and water, where available apply alcohol based sanitizer after dispose”.
It also recommended that when using a reusable mask, individuals prepared some soapy or bleach lathered water and dropped the mask directly into it on removing, and to leave it in the water for five minutes before washing, and then rinse, dry and iron before reusing.
“It is important that all masks used meet the minimum standards of safety," it said.
"The Ministry of Health recommends that the Food and Drugs Authority approved masks are used. "Where these are not available, homemade masks are used,” the statement said.
The homemade masks, it recommended were the JAVA or WAX cloths sown triple layered and stringed with side loops to be worn as hooks to the ear, and calico inlaid with fabric stiffens and inner covered with side loops to be worn as hooks to the ear.
However, it discouraged the use of homemade masks with strings to be tied behind the neck or head, and entreated all to ensure that adult masks were not worn by children, while recommending that adults found child appropriate length masks for their children.
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