COVID-19: NCDC issues new advisory on use of face masks

COVID-19: NCDC issues new advisory on use of face masks

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 12:22 am

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued new advisory to guide Nigerians on the use of face masks to prevent themselves against new coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Director-General (D-G) of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, issued  the advisory on Tuesday in Abuja while giving an update on COVID-19.

Ihekweazu said that NCDC recognised  the need for guidance on COVID-19 prevention,  and remained committed to keeping Nigerians informed on verified ways to stay safe against the pandemic.

He said that globally, there was a debate on the effectiveness of masks as a preventive measure against COVID-19.

According to him, evidence in favour of the use of masks include that it can  prevent  an asymptomatic  person (a person who never develops symptoms)  from transmitting the disease as well as prevent transmission during  pre-symptomatic period ( before a person develops symptoms).

He added that there was emerging evidence of the ability of a mask to prevent contact with respiratory droplets.

The D-G said that comparisons also appeared to suggest better outcomes in countries that 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 face masks they are wearing, they run a higher risk of infection,” he, however, said.

He said that in view of these, the NCDC  advised that wearing of face masks or equivalents was  recommended as an optional  layer to be used in addition to other measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene measures.

“Masks have to be properly disposed of in waste bins. Improper handling and frequently touching of masks can increase the risk of infection.

“Improvised masks are an option as long as they are properly washed regularly.

“They can be made out of cloth or other materials,” he advised.

The D-G said that usage of face masks was particularly advisable when attending  gatherings “where it is absolutely necessary to attend”.

He listed such gatherings to include shopping outlets, markets and pharmacies.

Ihekweazu noted that patients and healthcare workers needed  masks the most.

He advised that old persons  with medical conditions such as diabetes should  wear masks since they were at a higher risk of the infection.

He also  advised that face masks should be used by those  with respiratory problems and those already exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting testing.

Ihekweazu said it was important to note that usage of face masks alone could not be relied upon to prevent COVID-19.

He said that physical distancing and regular hand washing  were necessary for protection against  the virus.

NAN reports that according to the World Health Organisation, medical face masks should be worn primarily by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of people with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facilities.

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