FORMER PUNJAB Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu continued to defy government orders making masks mandatory as he visited three hospitals in Amritsar and Tarn Taran to donate 1,000 N95 masks for frontline workers without wearing one himself.
Sharing three videos of his visit to civil hospitals and the Government Medical College and Hospital in Amritsar, Sidhu was seen donating masks and telling medicos that he was keeping his promise made on Baisakhi.
After the government made face masks mandatory earlier this week, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had on Friday directing police to take action against violators. Sidhu continued to defy the orders.
A statement by his office stated, “Fulfilling the commitment to frontline healthcare workers at the three medical facilities made on Baisakhi day, Sidhu today donated 500 pieces of N95 medical masks to Guru Nanak Dev Medical College, Amritsar, 300 pieces to Civil Hospital, Amritsar and 200 pieces to Civil Hospital, Taran Tarn.”
“The World Health Organisation recommended N95 medical masks for healthcare workers taking care of COVID-19 patients, which are in short supply and high in demand across the world. Yet, with strenuous efforts Navjot Singh Sidhu has arranged the same for frontline healthcare warriors…”
Defending his act of not wearing a mask, his statement added, “WHO stresses that it is critical that medical masks and respirators be prioritised for healthcare workers and reminds that a mask should only be used by health workers, care takers, and individuals with respiratory symptoms, such as fever and cough. Thus, WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely.”
It added: “The WHO recommends to only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or (not) looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask.”
Further reproducing WHO advice, he added, “The wide use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not supported by current evidence and carries uncertainties and critical risks. Due to many serious reasons, some of them being self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask, false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene, diversion of mask supplies and consequent shortage of mask for health care workers, diversion of resources from effective public health measures, such as hand hygiene.”
Asked about the Punjab government’s recommendation of use of home-made three-layered masks for the general public so that there is no shortage of masks for medicos, Sidhu’s office did not respond
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