President Uhuru Kenyatta Monday announced an enhanced raft of measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. One of the new directives requires all Kenyans to wear face masks while in public to curb the spread of the deadly virus that has claimed the lives of six patients in Kenya, as of Monday, 6 April.
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi on Sunday also urged members of the public to acquire a mask even as they wait on the government to begin distributing them.
This has seen a boom in the trade of masks, with some hawkers selling them for as low as Sh30-50.
However, there are concerns that the market might be saturated with masks that are not ideal for COVID-19. So, what should Kenyans look out for when acquiring a mask?
According to Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Bernard Njiraini, a good mask is determined by the design; it must be 3-ply.
Speaking on Monday, Njiraini said the outer layer should be waterproof, ie hydrophobic.
“The middle layer is supposed to filter in the micro-organisms and the inner layer is supposed to absorb some moisture. All these layers have some functions,” he said.
Trade and Industrialisation CS Betty Maina added that there are masks for medical personnel and there are general masks that anyone can wear when they go out.
“Three-ply can be utilised by the health professionals but is also good for you. So if you go out to buy ensure you can be able to detect that it has got three plies.
“There is the inner layer then the darker part is the outer layer for gathering dust but there should be a filter inside it. So that is something that medical personnel can wear and all of us.”
She added: “There are simple dust masks that can be worn by everybody including our boda boda riders just for dust purposes.”
Maina noted that masks woven from cloth can’t protect against coronavirus.
“It may protect you against dust and other particles in the air but it will not protect you against this disease because it doesn’t have the inner filter.”
The call for Kenyans to wear masks comes after scientists in the US discovered that coughs can travel as far as six metres and sneezes up to eight metres and not one metre as previously claimed.
The State had asked healthy members of the public to leave masks only for health workers and sickly people.