Masks can do more harm than good

False Bay Hospital emergency centre staff appealing to the public to stay home during the lockdown.

Wearing a mask and gloves when going to buy essentials, instead of protecting you, could raise your chances of catching Covid-19, warn health authorities.

Western Cape Health Department spokesman, Mark van der Heever, says there’s a high risk of transferring germs from your hands to your face when fiddling with a mask.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), masks should only be used by health-care workers and those caring for people with Covid-19.

Mr Van der Heever said good hand hygiene, not touching your face, and keeping a distance of 1.5 metres from others when you leave your home for essential items or medical care are the health department’s Covid-19 safety guidelines for the public.

“If you are not ill and not in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, you do not need to wear a mask or gloves,” said Mr Van der Heever.

False Bay Hospital’s manager for medical services, Dr Wendy Waddington, said masks and gloves gave a false sense of security. Masks could quickly become contaminated if not handled correctly.

If the outside of the mask was touched while removing it and hands had not been washed meticulously, the mask could, in fact, raise the risk of transmission, she said.

For more information on Covid-19 do’s and don’ts, visit

If you have flu-like symptoms, such as a dry cough, sore throat and a high fever, call the national hotline at
0800 029 999 or the provincial hotline at 021 928 4102.