Elderly advised against wearing masks when out to exercise

File photo of three elderly men out for a walk. (File Photo/Sun/Mohamed Afrah)

National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) said on Sunday that it is advisable for senior citizens, especially those who suffer from respiratory illnesses, to refrain from wearing masks when out to exercise.

The Maldivian government has eased some of the restrictions imposed following the lockdown in the Greater Male’ Region, allowing the elderly to venture out of their homes between 05:00 am and 08:00 am to get some fresh air and exercise.

At a press conference at NEOC on Sunday night, Health Protection Agency (HPA) epidemiologist Dr. Ibrahim Afzal said that it isn’t advisable for the elderly, especially those who suffer from respiratory illnesses and other such medical issues, to wear masks.

He advised that they refrain from wearing masks even when out of their homes to exercise.

“It’s because this disease [COVID-19] isn’t airborne. Since this virus transmits from human to human by travelling through droplets expelled into the air when a person infected with this disease coughs or sneezes, people out for walks, and people who fall within this age category, do not need to wear masks,” he said.

Dr. Afzal said that it wasn’t advisable for the elderly to wear masks when engaged forms of exercise including walking, jogging or cycling.

HPA epidemiologist Dr. Ibrahim Afzal at a NEOC press briefing. (Photo/NEOC)

“It’s possible that overexerting their lungs and their bodies may prevent the flow of necessary oxygen,” he said.

Dr. Afzal said that masks must be worn in situation where close proximity to others is required, such as going out for shopping.

He advised that the elderly go out to exercise alone.

“It is advisable to maintain an appropriate physical distance even when jogging. It is highly recommended that they exercise alone,” said Dr. Afzal.

Dr. Afzal also said that some of the elderly are accompanied by children during the allocated exercise time.

He advised against it.

Coronavirus patients in Maldives include 35 people above the age of 65 years, including a 92-year-old man who tested positive last week.

The elderly are at high-risk of suffering complications from contracting the new coronavirus.

Five coronavirus patients have died in Maldives, three of whom were people above the age of 80 years.

Maldives has confirmed 1,773 cases of the new coronavirus. 455 patients have recovered.