Doctor tells foreigners: When in Malaysia, mask up, follow the rules

The wearing of face masks is expected to be among the last restrictions that will eventually be lifted as Malaysia continues its transition from Covid-19 pandemic to the endemic phase, says a senior physician.

Prof Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan said the wearing of face masks has proven to protect the community and stressed that everyone in the country – locals and foreigners – should wear them when in public.

“There’s been plenty of studies about the effectiveness of wearing a face mask to protect the wearer, and others. Some studies have also shown that the wearing of double face masks – a non-surgical face mask underneath a cloth mask – offer better protection,” said Dr Tharmaseelan.

“Wearing a simple thing like a face mask should not be viewed as a hindrance.”

Several foreigners, without face masks, were spotted walking along Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, on Saturday night. Police also confirmed receiving a report about a maskless foreigner who created a scene at a grocery store along Jalan Ampang. The man’s antics were recorded and uploaded on social media on Saturday.

Several locals too, have been spotted without face masks in public, as the government relaxed certain rules, starting April 1. However, the government maintained that the wearing of face masks was still mandatory.

“When foreigners come here, they should follow the laws of the land. In their respective countries, perhaps things are done differently. But here, it’s clear that we still have to wear face masks,” the former Malaysian Medical Association president added.

England and Singapore, for example, have dropped the face mask requirement.

“The Malaysian government is now deliberating on the use of MySejahtera (a mobile application to facilitate contact tracing efforts) but I reckon that removing face masks will be last on the agenda, and rightfully so.

“As for those visiting Malaysia, we welcome them, but they have to follow our rules. If they don’t, it’s just a bad display of ethics and manners.”

Dr Tharmaseelan added that tourists should be reminded of the face mask ruling even before they board the plane to Malaysia.

“Tell them of the mandatory requirement when they check in, while on the plane, and just before they disembark. It’s similar to announcements related to drug offences. The visitors can’t claim ignorance. They must know that one must wear a face mask in public while in Malaysia. It’s as simple as that,” he added.

He also said the public should not be afraid or intimidated to ask an individual to mask up while in a public area.

“It’s for everyone’s safety, including that of the person wearing the face mask. Cases are going up in other parts of the world and we don’t want the same happening here. So, let’s just mask up.”