According to the World Health Organization (WHO), medical face masks should be worn primarily by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, health workers and people who are taking care of people with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommends the use of face masks by members of the public, as an optional additional layer and not as a compulsory measure, in addition to physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene measures in Nigeria. This is not a compulsory advisory, but it is an added recommendation in addition to the above measures.
In view of these, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control offers the following advice to members of the public:
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,hand washing, 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. It is important to remember that the usage of face masks alone cannot be relied upon to avoid the COVID-19 virus; physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene measures are necessary for protection from the virus.