The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has advised that cloth facemask should only be worn by individuals who are not at a high risk for complications due to COVID-19.
In its new advisory, the disease control agency recommended the use of facemasks as convenient substitute to medical facemasks for the current global situation and an additional layer of physical distancing to help block the spread of respiratory droplets from person to person.
This is in recognition of the fact that COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
A cloth facemask, made out of everyday fabric, can act as a barrier to respiratory droplets but cannot completely protect the individual from COVID-19.
NCDC stressed that it is very important that cloth facemasks are handled and cared for properly to avoid the further spread of infectious agents.
“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,” NCDC advised.
“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. Wash or sanitise your hands before removing the mask by the straps. Wash the mask immediately with soap or detergent and allow to dry completely in the sun and before re-use, iron the mask,” it said.
The NCDC, however, advised that the facemasks must be worn in combination with other preventive measures, such as avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between yourself and others, regular handwashing with soap under running water, and frequent cleaning of surfaces with soap and water or disinfectants.
The disease control agency further advised that health care workers and those caring for the ill, those experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing, and the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions should wear medical facemasks.