On Tuesday, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) recommended the use of masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but only as a voluntary measure which it said must be done in addition to other directives such as social distancing and regular handwashing.
While doing so, however, it is important to wear the face coverings the right way, the NCDC said, adding that “improper handling and frequently touching masks can increase the risk of infection”.
So, to guide you properly on the use of face masks, TheCable has provided the following tips strictly based on the advice of the World Health Organisation and reputable institutions:
WHEN TO WEAR FACE MASKS
The NCDC says while a general use of face masks is recommended but optional, they should be used when in large gatherings. For instance, at the shopping malls or markets where you cannot secure a two-metre radius to yourself.
WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE PUTTING ON THE FACE MASK
It is important to remember that it is risky to put on your face coverings whenever you want to without first washing your hands with soap and water or cleaning them with alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Doing so puts you at even greater risk because your hands might end up contaminating it.
Also, avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands thoroughly immediately.
YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO WASTE ONE — HERE IS HOW TO WEAR IT PROPERLY
Health experts believe not wearing the face mask properly is as good as not wearing one at all. So to ensure maximum protection from the virus, ensure you: Take the mask and inspect it for tears or holes, be sure which side is the top side (where the metal strip is), ensure the proper side of the mask faces outwards (the coloured side), cover your mouth and nose with the mask and ensure no gap between it and your face, and pull it down so it covers a part of your chin.
HOW TO REMOVE THE FACE COVERING? WITH CARE
While removing your face covering: remove it from behind (do not touch its front), be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Don’t also forget to wash your hands immediately with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitisers afterwards.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE STANDARD FACE MASK? CAN I USE CLOTHES?
The WHO says it is still working to better understand the effectiveness of non-medical masks made of other materials like cotton fabric. It, however, said while such coverings can be recommended in the interim, some factors must be considered such as: Numbers of layers of fabric/tissue, breathability of material used, water repellence/hydrophobic qualities, shape and fit of mask.
The NCDC also says these cloth masks are also an option “as long as they are properly washed regularly”.
You can watch this video from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on easy steps to make masks.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD THE COVERINGS BE WASHED? HOW ARE THEY EVEN WASHED?
The CDC says face masks should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. Other experts tend to be more specific: “Masks should be washed after each use …. with the use of warm water (which has proven effective at degrading most viruses).”
HOW MANY SHOULD I HAVE THEN?
Since you wash or discard each mask after every use, it is only ideal to have more than one mask for your use. If you can, get a small set.
THOSE WHO CAN’T USE FACE MASKS
The US CDC advises that the face coverings should not be placed on young children under the age of two, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
REMEMBER THAT FACE MASKS DON’T MAKE YOU INVINCIBLE — CORONAVIRUS CAN STILL SEE YOU
This cannot be overemphasised: Wearing face masks alone cannot protect you against the coronavirus. To be safe from it, the NCDC says you must combine this with measures such as physical distancing, handwashing, respiratory hygiene, cleaning and frequent disinfection of touched surfaces.