COVID19: Wearing of face mask is recommended, says NCDC

COVID19: Wearing of face mask is recommended, says NCDC

The use of face masks for members of the public without respiratory symptoms has been recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

This was contained in the NCDC's Advisory on the use of Marks by Members of the Public Without Respiratory Symptoms' document which was released on Tuesday April 14.

The agency said face masks can act as an "additional layer" in the battle against COVID-19 in the country but added that it was not compulsory. It advised older people with pre-existing conditions to wear face masks as well as a person visiting a crowded place, such as a market.

Below are the five recommendations of the NCDC on face masks in the country:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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