The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Health authorities discourage use of visors without masks in latest guidelines

Albert Galea Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 16:08 Last update: about 2 months ago

In their latest set of guidelines and recommendations on the use of face coverings, health authorities have discouraged the use of visors without facemasks, owing to a lack of evidence that they are effective at controlling droplet transmission.

The recommendation came in a document issued by the Superintendence of Public Health ahead of the wearing of masks almost everywhere being made mandatory on Saturday.

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“Visors/Face shields are simple, transparent screens that cover the face and help prevent infectious droplets from entering the eyes, nose and mouth and should extend to below the chin. They can be worn separately or in conjunction with masks but are the most effective when worn in conjunction with masks, blocking splashes and sprays from reaching the face and preventing people from touching their faces”, the guideline reads.

“However, due to their design, they may allow respiratory droplets to exit or enter through the open gaps between the visor and the face”, it adds.

“Since we do not yet have evidence that face shields are as effective as source control or protection from respiratory droplets as masks, we recommend that masks should be used in preference to visors (or in conjunction with them), while the use of visors alone is discouraged.”

The guidelines do concede however that in certain situations where a mask is not practical or cannot be tolerated, such as on children with special needs or with certain health issues, visors can be used as an alternative to masks.

Only children up to three years of age; and persons with severe cognitive, physical, mental or respiratory impairments who have difficulties tolerating a mask as certified by a licensed medical practitioner are exempt from the mask wearing regulations.

In the case of the latter, such individuals should at all times carry the relevant medical certificate exempting them from wearing a mask with them.

Anyone caught not wearing a mask is liable to a 100 fine, which has doubled since the new regulations were announced last Friday.

Private residences and private vehicles are exempt from the mask-wearing regulations, while there are some other exceptions where a mask can be temporarily removed.

These exceptions are:

-- in the case of children attending kindergarten, while in the classroom;

-- during high intensity physical activity;

-- when speaking or providing assistance to any individual who relies on lip reading to communicate;

-- during official public speaking provided that a physical distance of at least two metres between individuals is maintained [the delivery of lessons or lectures in schools, universities or other education establishments are here not be construed as official public speaking];

-- if requested for identification purposes, including at banks, at the airport or seaport or by law enforcement officials;

-- to receive any medical or cosmetic treatment or service involving the face or mouth;

-- to take medication;

-- when seated at establishments where food and drink is served.

 

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