We've got news for you.

Register on BusinessLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now
A worker sews face masks in Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE SUNDAY TIMES
A worker sews face masks in Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE SUNDAY TIMES

Covid-19 brought with it at least one positive change, as everyone entering a hospital was required to wear a mask, which protected people from tuberculosis (TB) and flu. Now health minister Joe Paahla and his team have removed the mask requirement.

I totally disagree with the minister. Face coverings inside health facilities must remain in place to help prevent the spread of TB from undiagnosed patients.

Take the example of a 40-year-old construction worker who was complaining of being tired and coughing for more than a week. He had seen several private doctors. Antibiotics did not seem to help.

He came into the overcrowded casualty ward at a local hospital on a Sunday morning, and had to wait more than three hours in a room with about 60 others, as the clinic was busy with trauma cases.

Sputum tests for TB were eventually taken and chest X-rays done. After two days the results showed he had TB. This patient was not wearing a face covering as it was not required by law pre-Covid-19, so at least 60 patients who were waiting with him were exposed. 

Everyone who is in a clinic, hospital, hospice or old age centre should continue to wear a mask. I won’t see a patient who is not wearing a face covering. I carry a spare one at all times and give it to any patient who needs it.

Face masks are Covid-19’s gift to humanity. Let’s not throw that gift away.

Dr Lucas Ntyintyane
Via email

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an email with your comments to letters@businesslive.co.za. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.​ 


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.