Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has warned that while face masks serve as an additional layer of protection in public settings, the purpose is defeated if personal hygiene is poor and other preventive measures are not adhered to.
Mrs Elsie Ilori, NCDC’s Head of Surveillance and Epidemiology, speaking for Director-General Chikwe Ihekweazu, stated this at Monday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
According to her, other preventive measures such as avoiding large gatherings, frequent washing of hands, maintaining physical distancing, are equally important.
‘As the number of COVID cases increases globally, it brings to the forefront the need to adhere to preventive measures; therefore,wearing of masks is a key aspect of this preventive measures and several studies have shown that its effectiveness is in reducing the risk of infection,’ she said.
‘Wearing a mask in public, is not only to protect yourself, but you also protect others around you. Just because this is important, because not many people show symptoms.
‘Some people you come across do not show symptoms, these are the people will call asymptomatic. They won’t show symptoms but they have the virus and they can still transmit,’ she said.
The NCDC boss lamented the fact that many will show symptoms, adding that they are the ones likely to infect people with underlay sicknesses leading to fatalities as evident in the NDDC data.
He added: ‘We are now closer to 1,000 fatalities for COVID. This situation is not unique to Nigeria, it is a global issue and it requires collective efforts. This is the eight month since the world has been heavily impacted by this disease.
‘And by doing our own bit, you can go through it much faster and taking responsibilities and adhere to preventive measures of COVID as well as emphasising the need for it with our family members and friends.
‘When going out, wear a mask, especially when you’re in a situation where physical distancing might not be possible, and that includes taking public transport or in market places. Face masks should never be shared. This is very important,’ Ilori explained.
She said that while the use of improvised masks is cost-effective and can be washed, medical masks should not be reused, but should be disposed of properly in the waste bin.
‘Let’s wear our face masks properly, please; under the chin is not effective, also below the nose… that is not effective. You’re not protecting yourself.
‘You might be covering your mouth, but you’re also taking in the air. So, you need to cover your nose and mouth that is when it is effective. When we are speaking, we should not do put it under our chin because we are infecting it.’