PETALING JAYA: Although the requirement to wear a mask has been relaxed for indoor settings, wearing one is still compulsory at medical facilities, while using public transport and in places where there are health-vulnerable people, such as at old folk homes.

Respiratory and internal medicine specialist Dr Aziz Marwan said while wearing a mask is a good idea, especially in crowded places and for those who have comorbidities, it is not the ultimate protection against Covid-19.

“There are several things one can do apart from wearing a mask. Maintaining your health, washing your hands regularly and ensuring social distancing are still important,” he told theSun.

Aziz said after going through a long period of movement restrictions, some Malaysians may be experiencing “fatigue”, which is why some refuse to wear a mask.

He added that the most important thing is to understand one’s health risks and take action when something feels off.

“If you have underlying diseases that can jeopardise your health, make sure you take steps to manage it. Stay on top of your health so that your body can combat other potential diseases.”

On whether long-term wearing of masks could cause cancer, Aziz said there were a lot of factors that contribute to the disease.

“Even excessive exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer.”

He also said in some people, wearing a mask could result in physiological effects in the body.

“Limited airflow through the nose can cause dyspnea, or shortness of breath. Some people can tolerate it but others can’t as it can trigger high blood pressure, fatigue, headaches and numbness in the hands and legs.”

Aziz advised individuals to understand their health risks, change to a new mask every four to six hours, stay hydrated and seek medical attention at the onset of feeling unwell.

He said there are also other diseases on the rise such as lung cancer and tuberculosis, adding that as with Covid, while wearing a mask is recommended to reduce the chances of getting such diseases, it cannot offer absolute protection.

Universiti Malaya head of Social and Preventive Medicine Dr Victor Hoe said “mask fatigue” is an indicator that people are getting tired of public health measures that may no longer be relevant.

“Currently, the mortality rate for Covid-19 is similar to that of seasonal influenza. People with flu-like symptoms and cough should wear a mask in public. Those with underlying diseases should also be encouraged to wear one,” he said.