The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), at the weekend issued an advisory on cloth mask, insisting that cloth facemask itself cannot protect individuals completely, saying it must be worn in combination with other containment measures.
These measures are: “avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 meters between yourself and others, regular handwashing with soap under running water, and frequent cleaning of surfaces with soap and water or disinfectants”.
In the guidelines, the agency noted that COVID-19 was primarily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
Also in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Nigeria, it advised the use of face masks as an additional layer of physical distancing to help block the spread of respiratory droplets from person to person.
Noting that the government of Nigeria has mandated the use of face masks in public places, NCDC said due to the global shortage of medical face masks, several countries are turning alternatives to medical face masks for the general public.
It said a cloth face mask, made out of everyday fabric can act as a barrier to respiratory droplets but cannot completely protect you from COVID-19.
It explained further that cloth face masks are a convenient substitute to medical face masks for the current global situation but they should not be worn by individuals who are at high risk for complications due to COVID-19.
The NCDC made a list of groups that should compulsorily wear medical face masks, as follows: healthcare workers and those caring for the ill, those experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions.
The advisory also recommended that people should wash their hands frequently with soap under running water to avoid contamination, adhere to social distancing measures and stay at home as much as possible, wear a mask before leaving your home for essential services, wear masks made with at least 3 layers of fabric, use a cloth face mask on children under the age of 2 years.
Other guidelines are: “Don’t try on new masks from vendors or wear immediately after purchasing; Wash before first use, don’t reuse a cloth face mask before it has been washed and dried, don’t leave a used face mask on uncleaned surfaces or in the reach of small children while not in use, don’t pull down your mask to cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your bent elbow over the mask until you can safely remove the mask for washing.
“it is very important that cloth face masks are handled and cared for properly to avoid the further spread of infectious agents. Please adhere to the following guidelines for the use of cloth face masks: make sure the mask has been washed and is unused before first wear. Wash your hands with soap under running water before touching the mask. If water is not available, use a hand sanitiser.
“Cover your nose and mouth completely with the mask making sure it fits snuggly with no open gaps. Avoid touching or adjusting the mask while it is on 5. Wash or sanitize your hands before removing the mask by the straps. Wash the mask immediately with soap or detergent and allow it to dry completely in the sun and before re-use, iron the mask”, it stated.