It is risky to use counterfeit face masks

Muscat: Not using a standard mask is risky in terms of catching the COVID-19, as the virus is highly contagious and requires proper selection of a face mask.

There have been complaints of cheap and fake face masks which are produced at low costs but sold in the market as standard masks.

The Consumer Protection Authority (CPA) recently seized stocks of illegally made cheap quality masks and referred them to the Public Prosecution for action.

“We raided some warehouses and shops and found illegal masks. Counterfeiting is a criminal offense. The imitated masks harm public health,” a spokesperson of the Department of Market Watch at the Consumer Protection Authority said.

“Use an original, medically safe mask to meet the purpose of wearing it, else it not only let the virus in but also cause pulmonary issues because of the contents in the mask,” a respiratory diseases specialist told the Observer.

“From the safety point of view, you need to look at 3Fs – filtration, fluid resistance, and fit. A good mask would have 99 per cent bacteria filtration efficiency (BFE) to filter-out microorganisms, fluid-resistant outer layer to reduce exposure to body fluids, and a mask that can give your good fit and facial coverage,” said Saju George, Managing Director, alfarsi.me, the manufacturers of Made in Oman, trusta branded masks.

Worldwide, fake masks have been flooding the market and the use of unapproved face masks is on the rise which prompted authorities to issue warnings against the same.

“The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) is keeping a close vigil on such malpractice in the market especially during the pandemic,” he added.

The price of average quality face masks for a box of 50 pieces was around RO 1 before the pandemic broke out. Then the use was limited to the healthcare sector and barely in some other sectors. But the prices went as high as RO 10 during the peak of the COVID-19 and today, the same box is available for less than RO 1 at many shopping centers.

“The demand for face masks is so high that we are unable to meet the same and we depend upon some individuals who sell them the source of which is unknown,” a local vendor who supplies these products said.

The hazards of wearing a fake face mask are many. A fake mask is far from the several non-woven plastic layers that effectively filter very small particles and droplets of COVID-19. Hence, they easily allow droplets in and jeopardise the life of the user.

These counterfeit masks could trigger allergy and infections on the face.

There are some ways to identify medically tested masks. The best way is to look out for original signage, search for the brand reliability online, reading more about the PPE, masks, and local as well as global regulations on them.

It is advisable to choose the best mask that is comfortable to your face without compromising on safety.