IPOH, 29 June 2020:
The use of face masks among children aged five and below – while attending classes – is discouraged as it can pose a safety risk, says senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh.
Dr Amar Singh, former Pediatric Department head at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital, Ipoh, said children at that age – especially those who could not speak fluently or had health problems such as asthma – may have difficulty with wearing masks for a long period of time.
“The question is, can these young children wear face masks for a long period while in the classroom? They may be able to wear a face mask temporarily.
“Children with health problems such as asthma or heart disease are not recommended to wear a face mask for an extended period of time as there is a fear that they will experience shortness of breath. It is more worrying if they are not yet good in communicating their problems.”
He was commenting on the rules stipulated by several childcare centres and kindergartens which required all children to wear masks during the school session that would begin this Wednesday after the closure since March 18 following the implementation of the Movement Control Order.
Dr Amar Singh, who is also National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) advisor, said the use of face shields would be more appropriate for children who could understand and follow the instructions.
“This (face shield) is not as good as the face mask, but it is not distracting, it is easy to breathe and the teacher can see the children’s faces,” he said, adding that teachers also need to use the device regularly to prevent saliva drops touching the students.
On the use of hand sanitisers, Dr Amar Singh said there was no problem for children using the liquid even though it contained alcohol as it was one of the effective options to kill bacteria and viruses including Covid-19, apart from regularly washing hands with water and soap.
“Some parents are worried about having their children using hand sanitiser containing alcohol, which is really not a problem. Those without alcohol content do not guarantee that they can kill germs, bacteria or viruses.”
Consumers are advised to use a hand sanitiser with 60-80% of alcohol content as anything higher is less suitable due to its fast drying properties as well as causing dryness to the skin.