THE Health Professions Council of Zambia (HPCZ) has called on the public to ensure that they wear masks whenever they leave their homes to protect themselves and those around them.

HPCZ has, however, backed the Ministry of Health’s scientific approach and evidence-based testing so that the country avoids wasting COVID-19 testing kits.

In an interview, HPCZ Registrar Bwembya Bwalya said despite patients wearing masks, health workers must ensure they wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times to protect themselves from the novel Coronavirus.

“Our appeal to the patients themselves, every time they are going out of their homes, let them put on a mask. And I would also like to appeal to all health workers, you know in health facilities, we are deeming health facilities as potential hotspots, so whenever they are attending to patients, they should wear protective equipment, they should be in PPE, face mask and shields, whatever equipment that they have available, they should put it on. Remember, the President (Edgar Lungu) has directed that everyone going out should wear masks, much more the people that are on the front-line and the people that are seeing patients coming from different backgrounds, they ought to be in protective equipment all the time because they don’t know the kind of patient that they are screening; it could be a COVID-19 patient so they will only be able to protect themselves if they have the equipment,” Bwalya said.

“We just need to urge the public out there to mask-up whenever they are going out, it’s only for their good and they will help us also to protect health workers because in an event that they are found positive and they are wearing masks, then the health workers are also protected. So, it’s a way of avoiding transmission from person-to-person. So, whoever is wearing a mask, they are doing for themselves and they are also doing it for the other person.”

And Bwalya observed that suggestions for the Ministry of Health to test everyone was not feasible.

He, however, added that there was need to continue with the scientific approach and ensure prudence in the use of test kits.

“I think the Minister (Dr Chitalu Chilufya) has alluded to that in his remarks whenever he is addressing the public, they are using a scientific approach. And he has assured the public that they have the capacity to do, even massive tests, but they are looking at the information that they are getting in the ground. So, they don’t want to just go out and waste testing kits, there has to be a lead, it has to be evidence-based and it’s a good approach, we applaud it. We don’t need to just go out and test everyone, I think we have to have a scientific approach and prudence in the utilization of testing kits that we have. Remember, there’s a cost attached to that so we can’t just go out and react and do the testing. I think it has to be evidence-based. Of course, the general public have their own ways, which they feel that it needs to be done, but I think it needs to be appreciated from a prudence point of view,” said Bwalya.