Singapore – Members from the online community perceive the recent announcement that children under the age of six were no longer required by law to wear a face mask as a “bad decision.”
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday (Sept 23) that children under the age of six were no longer legally required to wear a face mask. The Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020 would be amended next Monday (Sept 28) to incorporate the changes, reported straitstimes.com. The current legal minimum age for children to wear face masks was raised from two to six years old.
Consequently, MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak noted that “To protect young children from Covid-19, we continue to encourage young children to wear a mask or a face shield, especially if they are in a group setting, for example, in pre-school or when they are in social activities interacting with other kids.”
“Children and other persons who may not have the coordination necessary for the proper use of masks or face shields should continue to be supervised,” he added.
Associate Professor Mak said the adjustments were made following the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef).
According to the WHO, “children aged five and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.” Furthermore, the WHO and Unicef advise that children aged 6-11 should be made to wear a mask based on certain factors such as the widespread transmission of the virus within the community, access to masks, and potential impact of mask-wearing on learning and psychosocial development.
The advisory increasing the minimum age for children to wear face masks came after a review of evidence on Covid-19 disease and transmission in children. Factors such as limited available evidence on children using face masks and their psychosocial needs and developmental milestones were taken into account.
Members from the online community perceive the decision to be a bad one, noting the virus does not choose at what age to infect. Facebook user La Saif added that children were more prone to touch their surroundings, hence the need to protect oneself was essential.
“Why we never learn from the previous episode,” asked Facebook user Blessed Jade, giving reference to the period when masks were not compulsory but encouraged, only to become mandatory when community cases increased.
Many urged parents to take extra precautions and continue having their children wear face masks or shields as the virus can infect anyone regardless of age. “Parents, make your own choice and do what is necessary for your own peace of mind,” commented Facebook user M Feng Zhang.