South Africans should rather donate their stockpiles of surgical masks to healthcare professionals as wearing a mask could not prevent one from catching the feared Covid-19 virus.
The country went into panic-buying mode in recent weeks with scores flocking malls and pharmacies to buy masks, gloves and sanitisers in an attempt to contain the spread of the fatal virus.
Small enterprises are now trying to sell all sorts of masks, gloves and sanitisers to desperate buyers on social media.
While masks were now in high demand, they were actually useless at preventing infections.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of someone suspected of contracting the Covid-19 virus.
Masks should be worn by those who are already infected by the Covid-19 virus or are coughing and sneezing.
N95 respirator masks were a better option as they prevented the inhalation of airborne viruses, chairperson of the South African Medical Association Dr Angelique Coetzee said.
“With the mask, you can still catch the virus as it can still go through the eyes,” said Coetzee.
“It only helps you not to spread the virus to other people if you are already infected.
“It is totally pointless wearing a mask. People are now wasting the masks since we have a shortage of masks for healthcare professionals and people don’t really need them,” she said.
Gloves did not prevent the spreading of the virus either but instead only protected the person wearing them. One should rather continuously change the gloves to prevent contamination of other surfaces.
“Gloves only protect you and not the other person. With contaminated gloves, you can spread it to other people or even touch your face and get infected because the virus stays on surfaces for about nine hours,” she said .
Shoppers should have rather stockpiled on any soap of their choice rather than hand sanitiser as it was best to wash off the bacteria and virus.
“People should rather stock up on soap. It doesn’t need to be a special soap. It is much cheaper than hand sanitiser.
“Hand sanitizer works if it is between 70% and 75% alcohol. Otherwise, keep a bottle of water and piece of soap, wet your hands with water, use the soap for about 20 seconds on your skin and rinse off,” said Coetzee