It can’t protect you completely — NCDC issues advisory on use of cloth face mask

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has issued an advisory on use of cloth face masks amid the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The health agency stated that though cloth face mask can be used as a barrier to respiratory droplets, it however “cannot completely protect from COVID-19”.

The NCDC outlined the following measures on the use of such face masks; 

Cloth face masks must be worn in combination with:

  •  Avoiding large gatherings
  • Physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between yourself and other
  •  Regular handwashing with soap under running water.
  •  Frequent cleaning of surfaces with soap and water or disinfectants

Who should not wear a cloth mask?

According to the NCDC, cloth face masks, which are a convenient substitute to medical face masks for COVID-19, should NOT be worn by individuals who are at high risk for complications due to the disease.

The following groups are advised to wear MEDICAL face masks:

  • Health care workers and those caring for the ill.
  • Those experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing.
  • The elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Dos and Don’ts of cloths face masks

  • DO wash your hands frequently with soap under running water to avoid contamination.
  • DO adhere to social distancing measures and stay at home as much as possible.
  • DO wear a mask before leaving your home for essential services.
  • DO wear masks made with at least 3 layers of fabric.
  •  DON’T use a cloth face mask on children under the age of 2 years.
  •  DON’T try on new masks from vendors or wear immediately after purchasing; Wash before first use.
  •  DON’T reuse a cloth face mask before it has been washed and dried.
  • DON’T leave a used face mask on uncleaned surfaces or in the reach of small children while not in use.
  • DON’T pull down your mask to cough or sneeze. Use a tissue or your bent elbow over the mask until you can safely remove the mask for washing

Handling and care of cloth face masks

  • Since cloth face masks are reusable, it is important to handle 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.
  • 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.

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