Police should allow homemade masks

In Summary

• Price of a basic disposable mask has risen from Sh7 in February to Sh100 today

• Center for Disease Control in the USA has provided recommended designs for homemade face masks

A mask made from fabric.
LIMITED PROTECTION: A mask made from fabric.

The police have said that they will arrest anyone not wearing a face mask approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (see P7).

This colludes with the profiteering of mask suppliers. A box of 50 face masks cost Sh750 in February and today it is Sh5,000. This puts the price of a cheap disposable mask beyond the reach of the ordinary person.

Now the police say they will arrest anyone using a homemade mask. That is cruel and unsympathetic to the plight of the ordinary Kenyan trying to escape the virus.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with homemade masks. The Center for Disease Control in America, and other health authorities, have issued designs for making a mask at home.

Kenya's partial lockdown has hammered the informal sector. But tailors benefited by making masks for the public (see P23). Now the police want to put them out of business as well because they don't have Kebs stickers.

In any case, even N95 masks are only protective if worn by trained medical professionals. The primary purpose of a mask is to remind the wearer to practice hygiene rules and self-distancing. 

The police should back off and allow homemade masks.

Quote of the day: "He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery."

Samuel Smiles
The author of Self-Help died on April 16, 1904