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LETTER | Mask mandate for indoor settings is lifted except in medical facilities and public transport, as announced yesterday. 

Does this mean there is no risk of Covid-19 infection with this announcement? Of course not. 

As of Sept 7, there were 2,428 newly reported cases with a positivity rate of 7.6 percent, which means the number is underreported. 

Luckily, 95 percent were with mild symptoms and on home quarantine.  Hospital admission and ICU usage due to Covid-19 were 22.1 percent and 18.1 percent respectively. 

The statistics show that although the Covid-19 situation is under control, this means it still poses risks to some, especially the high-risk and elderly groups.     

If we are not required to wear masks by law, do we follow suit?  Do we feel uncomfortable if people around us are not wearing masks but we are still masking? 

We should not be obliged to follow the rest whether we mask or not.  The government has returned the power to the people to decide for ourselves whether we want to wear a mask or not, be it indoor or outdoor. 

We are not forced to wear masks anymore, except in medical facilities and on public transport.   

Before vaccines were available, ecological studies found that Covid-19 transmission was 7.5 times higher in countries that did not have a mask mandate. 

With the Omicron virus variant, vaccination may not be very effective in the prevention of infection, but it is effective in preventing severe diseases, thus reducing the rates of hospitalisation and death.  

However, we should not have the perception that a mild Covid-19 infection is fine.  There are the possibilities of having post-Covid symptoms or Long Covid. 

Multiple infections compared to those with first infection, may exhibit increased risk and excess burden of all-cause mortality, hospitalisation, and adverse health outcomes in the acute and post-acute phase of the reinfection.

Therefore, with the removal of mask mandate, it is hope that the Covid-19 cases do not surge nor increase the burden for our health care system. This is where we as the individuals involved should be socially responsible. 

If and when we are infected, even though with mild symptoms, we should report to MySejahtera and get isolated, so that we don’t infect our family members or colleagues/friends. 

We should put on our masks when we have flu like symptoms even though we are tested negative.  

To decide on masking or not, we should weigh our risks.  Are we in the high-risk groups who are aged 60 years and above, with co-morbidities or with low immunity; who are more prone to severe disease? 

Are we vaccinated or boosted?  Do we want to protect our love ones from being infected? 

Are the places that we are going crowded with people ?  Is it equipped with good ventilation ?  

There is no right or wrong answer.  It is our choice.  We should be responsible with whatever the consequences are.  Stay safe stay healthy. 

The writer is from Social & Preventive Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.