Osagie Ehanire, the minister of health, has advised Nigerians to wear a face mask, including improvised ones, while at public places, to protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19.
Ehanire while responding to questions at the daily Presidential Task Force, PTF, briefing on Monday, April 13, 2020, said the use of face masks is an additional way to protect oneself against the virus.
”An additional way thought to protect against corona infection is the use of face masks, and it includes improvised and homemade face masks or face covering with handkerchiefs or scarves.
“A layered cotton fabric over the mouth and nose guards against particle emission during laughter, exclamation or loud talk and may offer mutual protection to wearers, especially where social distancing may not be achieved, or where close contact may not be avoided with certainty, such as markets,” Ehanire said.
He also said persons without the N95 or surgical masks could make use of homemade face masks, handkerchiefs or scarfs.
He, however, appealed that the local masks must be properly washed every evening with warm water, dried and further ironed to kill any virus that may have settled on the mask.
“The one many of us are using here are single-use which we have to throw away but you don’t need that for day to day activities,” he said. “The homemade ones must be washed every evening, preferably with warm water and then dried and ironed.”
”If you do that, it is safe to reuse it the next day. We are making that a recommendation and particularly stretching it to those who handle food,” he said.
The use of face masks as a preventive measure against COVID-19 has drawn mixed reactions from medical experts and individuals alike globally.
Face masks were initially designed to protect the patient from coughed or exhaled secretions by health workers during sterile procedures but recently, it has become essential protection for caregivers.
According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, ”there is no evidence wearing a mask by a healthy person in a community setting can prevent infection with respiratory virus including COVID-19.”
Ehanire said it is important to maintain physical distancing of about 6 feet and implement hand and respiratory hygiene at all times and places.
He also applauded the efforts of state governments in pressing for physical distancing and maintenance of hygiene.
He urged members of the public to abide by the stay at home directive issued by the federal government.