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Karnataka urges citizens to wear self-made masks, citing ‘positive effect on health’

"While discussing with public health specialists, it has been found that there is a positive effect on health due to wearing of masks," the advisory said.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Published: April 9, 2020 8:10:22 pm
coronavirus india, masks for coronavirus, karnataka masks, india lockdown, coronavirus news, latest news A police officer distributes masks to children of migrant daily wage laborers (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

As the number of COVID-19 cases surged to 197 in Karnataka on Thursday, the state health department advised the general public to wear masks while going out of their homes for different needs.

“While discussing with public health specialists, it has been found that there is a positive effect on health due to wearing of masks,” the advisory released on Thursday read.

The health department had earlier stated that not everyone needs to wear a mask. Advisories clarifying the same released earlier during March had stated that a person has to wear a mask only if having symptoms such as cold, cough, fever or any other respiratory problem, or if the individual is caring for COVID-19 patients. While the former was advised to wear triple-layered masks, the latter was directed to wear N-95 masks.

However, the latest advisory urged citizens to prepare cloth masks on their own at home using unused and untorn old cotton clothes. “Using synthetic or semi-synthetic clothes is not advisable. The masks should have two folds with three frills and four threads (strings) on the four corners to tie to the head,” the advisory mentioned.

Health officials further explained that stitching home-made masks would result in a dip in the unusual demand for those in the market. “Cloth masks made at home can also be reused by washing in hot water and ironing. It is desirable that each person has a minimum of two masks like these,” the official said.

Meanwhile, several citizens complained that shopkeepers, security personnel at supermarkets and the police had been insisting mandatory use of masks in public for all even though masks were on high demand and were sold at high prices.

“During my five-minute walk to the nearest supermarket, many people including policemen insisted that I wear a mask once I step out of home. However, a simple cloth mask was sold for Rs 150 then in pharmacies next to my place which I thought was overpriced. Now, I have made a mask myself after seeing a video online and is using it,” Achut Kumar, a techie residing in Jakkasandra in Bengaluru said.

Clarifying such situations, the health department stated, “It has been observed that the general public is voluntarily coming forward to wear masks as a result of publicity blitz regarding Coronavirus by the department.”

Meanwhile, in a bid to help overcome the shortage of masks in the market, the state government had engaged prisoners and staff of various departments including the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation to produce masks in bulk, to help themselves and the general public.

Later, Health Minister B Sriramulu had stated that the state government has decided to procure 10 lakh masks along with ventilators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to strengthen the pursuit against the spread of the pandemic.

“There is no doubt that you should wear masks but please wear cloth masks because cloth is absorbable, it can be washed, dried and worn again. For your use, cloth mask is as safe as a surgical mask,” Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, chairman of Karnataka task force to combat COVID-19 advised citizens in a video shared online by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services.

As on Thursday (April 9), the total number of active cases in Karnataka is 161 excluding six deaths and 30 discharges.

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