The Ministry of Health (MoH) has directed the mandatory wearing of nose and face masks to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
The directive, according to a statement signed and issued in Accra on Sunday by the Minister of Health, KwakuAgyeman-Manu, was pursuant to sections 169 and 170 of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851).
It noted that the nose and face masks were to be used at all public places especially where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing.
To avoid contamination, infection or transmission of the virus through the use of the masks, the statement entreated the public to clean their hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before wearing the mask.
It urged them to ensure that the masks fully covers the mouth and nose with no gaps between the face and the mask and was to be removed by passing a finger through the loop of the mask behind one ear and lift off without touching the front of the mask.
A mask, the statement said, should not be used for more than 12 hours at a time and noted that re-usable mask were to be washed in soapy water, dried and ironed before use.
Single-use surgical mask, were not to be worn more than twice while used masks were to be disposed in a closed bin and burnt at a safe place, it advised.
The statement said only masks approved by the Food and Drugs Authority were to be used.
“JAVA or Wax cloths sown triple layered and stringed with side loops to be worn as hooks to the ear. Calico inlaid with fabric stiffeners and inner covered with side loops to be worn as hooks to the ear. Homemade masks with strings to be tied behind the neck or head are not encouraged,” it stated.
Food vendors, sellers at the market, commercial vehicle drivers and attendants, persons at public spaces, among others, are all expected to wear the nose and face masks, the statement urged.
Already, the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regional Security Councils, have earlier issued directives on the compulsory wearing of nose masks to curb spread of the disease.
However, the directive was challenged by groups including the Chamber for Local Governance (ChaLog) and private legal practitioners claiming that Regional Ministers did not have the legal right to direct the compulsory wearing of masks.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS