By Emmanuel Ebimoh
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has launched an advisory on the use of cloth face masks. In a tweet on its official Twitter handle, @NCDCgov the National health agency explained the need of face masks in public places, as mandated by the Federal Government.
“In response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, NCDC advises the use of face masks as an additional layer of physical distancing to help block the spread of respiratory droplets from person to person.
To protect yourselves and loved ones from COVID-19, cloth face masks must be worn in combination with:
1. Avoiding large gatherings
2. Physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between yourself and others
3. Regular handwashing with soap under running water
4. Frequent cleaning of surfaces with soap and water or disinfectants.”
NCDC, however, cautioned that while cloth face masks are a convenient substitute to medical face masks for the current global situation, they should NOT be worn by individuals who are at a high risk for complications due to COVID-19, like health care workers and those caring for the ill, people experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing, and the elderly and people with chronic health conditions.
The health agency also went ahead to advise on the importance of washing hands frequently under running water, maintaining social distancing and the need for citizens to stay at home as much as possible. They advised that masks should always be worn before leaving the home, and masks should be made with at least three layers of fabric.
It further said that children under the age of two years should not use cloth face masks. Face masks purchased from vendors should not be worn immediately, instead they should be washed before first use.
Face masks should only be reused when they are washed and dried, and they should not be left on uncleaned surfaces or within the reach of small children when not in use.
And when coughing or sneezing, the mask should not be pulled down, rather “use a tissue or your bent elbow over the mask.”
“Because they (cloth face masks) are reusable, it is very important that cloth face masks are handled and cared for properly to avoid further spread of infectious agents,” the agency added.