Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has shared useful information on ways to maximize the use of facial mask – (which only covers the nose and mouth region) in protecting the citizens from contracting the deadly Covid19 virus.
According to a Statement issued by the organization earlier this week, “Globally, there is ongoing debate on the effectiveness of masks as a preventive measure for the coronavirus disease. The evidence in favour of the use of masks includes the possibility of asymptomatic (a person never develops symptoms) and pre-symptomatic (before a person develops signs and symptoms) transmission and emerging evidence of the ability of a mask to prevent contact with respiratory droplets.
“Ecological comparisons also appear to suggest better outcomes in countries that have used masks as a general policy. Sources of concern have been that people who wear face masks may feel protected and ignore physical distancing advice. In addition,
if face masks are not worn correctly, disposed of appropriately or if people touch their faces more frequently due to adjustments of the face masks they are wearing, they run a higher risk of infecting themselves.
Increased anxiety among the public
The statement further disclosed that daily real-time reporting of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened panic and fear in people, as the numbers of cases and deaths recorded globally continues to increase.
There is a lot that remains unknown about this disease. Authorities and scientists do not yet have all the answers to the many questions being asked. The instinct for self-preservation and protection from harm and the basic need to survive has brought about a need for self-defence against this novel virus. Many people will be resorting to the use of face masks to gain some control and confidence in their ability to protect themselves (and family) from contracting the coronavirus disease.
Nevertherless, to further educate the citizens, the NCDC offers the following advice to members of the public:
- The wearing of face masks, (or equivalent) is recommended as an optional additional layer
to be used in addition to other measures such as physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene measures in Nigeria. The primary rationale for the advice on face masks is to prevent those who are infected but asymptomatic from spreading the virus. Masks have to be properly disposed of in waste bins. Improper handling and frequently touching masks can increase the risk of infection. Improvised masks are also an option – as long as they are properly washed regularly. They can be made out of cloth or other materials.
- The usage of face masks is particularly advised while attending large gatherings (where it is absolutely necessary to attend). These include but are not limited to shopping outlets, markets, shops and pharmacies among others.
- Given the global shortage of personal protective equipment including medical masks, public sector resources should be preserved to procure medical masks for patients and healthcare workers who need them the most.
- The wearing of face masks alone will not protect against COVID-19, but must be combined with physical distancing, handwashing, respiratory hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and other advice from NCDC.
- Older persons (> 60) with existing medical conditions such as diabetes are particularly encouraged to wear masks as they are at higher risk of infection. It is also further advised that face masks are used by more vulnerable members of the society, citizens with ongoing
respiratory problems, and those already exhibiting symptoms and awaiting testing.
- It is important to remember that the usage of face masks alone cannot be relied upon to avoid the COVID-19 virus; physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene measures are necessary for protection from the virus.