Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has issued a comprehensive guidance on the use of masks, including improvised and homemade cloth masks or face coverings like handkerchiefs or scarves over the mouth and nose, which guard against particle emission in conversation or when coughing or sneezing, and may offer mutual protection to wearers.
This is even as it planned to patronise local manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) in other to address shortage, boost the economy and throw “shylocks hoarders” out of business.
Director-General of National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said this at the daily briefing of the Presidential Taskforce on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
He recommended that masks be worn as an additional layer of physical protection, in places where close contact or crowds may not be avoided with certainty, such as markets. The masks are particularly recommended for food vendors; the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions, with fragile health status.”
He also emphasised that masks must be used in combination with, but not as a substitute for hand washing, physical distancing, and good respiratory hygiene as well as sanitising surfaces.
Ihekweazu said medical grade masks are best reserved for patients and health workers who need them most, especially with the globally limited availability of the PPE.
He also encouraged citizens to make use of improvised or homemade washable masks or face coverings, which should be properly washed daily in warm water and dried or ironed.
The NCDC boss also advised that all public sector resources should be preserved to satisfy needs of healthcare workers and frontline staff rather than procuring more of the PPE.
He also disclosed that 20 health centers have been up in Lagos to make it easier to collect samples.
“We are helping Lagos State to set up sample collection facilities in 20 health facilities in the state. We want to make it easier for people who need to give samples to do so. Our call center capacity has also improved dramatically, so please call us if you need to.”