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Mask alone can’t protect you – NCDC issues advisory on use of cloth mask

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

The disease control agency in a tweet via its official handle said on Wednesday that physical distancing remains vital in protecting oneself from COVID-19.

The agency added that face mask alone is not the form of protection because the virus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

“Remember, cloth face masks are to be used as an additional layer of physical distancing; a mask alone cannot protect you from COVID19.

“Please continue to maintain a distance of 2 metres between yourself and others at all times to stay safe,” the NCDC tweeted.

The use of cloth face mask ranging from Ankara fabric to other fabrics has been on the rise in Nigeria.

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The NCDC in its full advisory urged Nigerians to continue to wash their hands frequently, avoid large gatherings and adhere to other guidelines which are listed below;

1. Avoiding large gatherings.

2. Physical distancing by maintaining a distance of 2 metres between yourself and others.

3. Regular handwashing with soap under running water.

3. 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 instead of cloth face masks.

1. Health care workers and those caring for the ill.

2. Those experiencing respiratory symptoms like coughing and sneezing.

3. The elderly and those with chronic medical conditions.

Dos and Don’ts of cloths face masks

1. DO wash your hands frequently with soap under running water to avoid contamination.

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2. DO adhere to social distancing measures and stay at home as much as possible.

3. DO wear a mask before leaving your home for essential services.

4. DO wear masks made with at least 3 layers of fabric.

5. DON’T use a cloth face mask on children under the age of 2 years.

6. DON’T try on new masks from vendors or wear immediately after purchasing; Wash before first use.

7. DON’T reuse a cloth face mask before it has been washed and dried.

8. DON’T leave a used face mask on uncleaned surfaces or in the reach of small children while not in use.

9. 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 very important to handle properly to avoid the further spread of infectious agents.

1. Make sure the mask has been washed and is unused before first wear.

2. Wash your hands with soap under running water before touching the mask.

3. If water is not available, use a hand sanitiser.

4. Cover your nose and mouth completely with the mask making sure it fits snuggly with no open gaps.

5. Avoid touching or adjusting the mask while it is on.

6. Wash or sanitise your hands before removing the mask by the straps.

7. Wash the mask immediately with soap or detergent.

8. Before reuse, iron the mask.