(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia will hand out 24.62 million masks, four for each household, while advising people to only use them if they have symptoms, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a statement Wednesday.
The global stance on wearing masks has started to shift over the past few weeks. Neighboring Indonesia ordered citizens to wear face masks when they leave the house, while Singapore changed its advice last week to say it will stop discouraging people from wearing face masks in public. The World Health Organization maintains medical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.
Malaysia has imposed an increasingly restrictive lockdown until April 14 to contain the pandemic. The country reported a total of 4,119 people infected with the coronavirus and 65 dead as of Wednesday, according to the health ministry.
While nations including the U.S. and the U.K. struggle with a shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, Malaysia isn’t facing a similar issue, said Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of health. The country, home to the world’s biggest glovemaker, has an ample supply and has seen no medical staff catch the infection from treating patients, he said in a Wednesday briefing.
(Updates with comments from director-general of health in second and third paragraphs.)
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