Infants should not be made to wear face masks as they risk suffocating and choking, a Bulawayo doctor has advised.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government made it mandatory for people to put on face masks when they leave their houses.
As a result, some parents have been seeing walking with children and infants clad in masks yet according to medical advice, it is not recommended for children less than three years to wear them.
“Children that are very young, who are less than three years or so and are unable to wear masks must not wear them. We don’t encourage children to put on masks because they may not feel that they are suffocating and may actual die from suffocation,” said Mpilo Acting Chief Executive Officer and Clinical Director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya in an interview with CITE.
Dr Ngwenya said young children could potentially suffocate in masks and urged parents or guardians to make sure they do not move around with them.
“So children shouldn’t be moving around. They should be staying at home, that’s why we see schools are closed because the moment they open children will be unable to wear the masks or keep them on for a few minutes, throw away the masks and contaminate each other,” the clinical director noted.
Meanwhile, the clinical director added that schools must remain closed until the threat of the coronavirus goes away.
“Ideally, schools should not open when there is this serious crisis, which is bad as coronavirus. When you open schools you will probably have mass infections and children will bring the infections home where most vulnerable groups are such as grandparents. The virus is bad towards those who are above 50years, 60 years and so forth,” he said.
Dr Ngwenya noted it was possible that children could pass the virus to others, as schools were a potential area of infection.
“So literally you are going asking children to go and take this virus from school and bring it home, where it wipe out the grannies,” he warned.
“Ideally, in this crisis schools should not open. I mean I know people complain but there are situations where people have stayed at home for years without going to school. If that’s necessary to protect people that has to be done.”
With the winter season approaching, Dr Ngwenya said the country would see a lot of transmission.
“So with our own setting here, our health sector probably will not cope with huge numbers of coronavirus patients. I urge everyone strongly, who do not need any reason to travel to sit down at home. That is the only way they will protect themselves from the virus especially those who have no urgent business to do,” he reiterated.
“People will probably assess the situation in August or September, then they will know whether it is safe for them to travel. Right now if you are infected with the coronavirus, there are two outcomes – it’s either you fight the virus off and survive or if the virus defeats you, you will die and you may die within weeks or days.”