The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) joins the global movement to motivate all citizens to wear a face mask. World Mask Week (WMW) aims to reinforce the importance of wearing a face mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In the absence of a vaccine that can prevent infection, and as COVID-19 cases increase globally, citizens must depend on non-pharmaceutical measures, which include the use of face masks, hand washing, physical distancing and supportive management of confirmed cases to mitigate the impact of the disease.
World Mask Week, an initiative from a coalition of organisations including the Pandemic Action Network (PAN), World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa CDC and private companies working to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 globally, will run from August 7th -14th 2020. In Nigeria, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC and partner organisations will run activities for WMW which includes awareness campaigns in communities and media features nationwide to sensitise Nigerians on the importance of wearing face masks to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The campaign on social media will also feature the hashtags #MaskOnNaija, #MaskingForAFriend and #TakeResponsibility.
Studies have shown that the correct use of face masks is critical in reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. Therefore, the World Mask Week movement encourages people and businesses around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask properly, not only during WMW, but everyday until a vaccine that prevents infection is readily accessible to all citizens.
The use of masks is a key component of Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) procedures in medical and non-medical settings. Given the widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in Nigeria, strict adherence to the use of masks in public spaces particularly, where physical distancing may not be practical, can help slow the spread of the virus.
Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General of the NCDC, added that only strong partnerships can fight the pandemic. "World Mask Week is a timely campaign that shows what can be achieved when government, private sector and individuals come together to push a simple yet important action. By reinforcing the need to wear a face mask, we are prioritising IPC on the global agenda and demonstrating the role that everyone has to play, protecting each other, saving lives and slowing the spread of COVID-19 globally."
"We are glad to join this global campaign to educate Nigerians on the importance of wearing a face mask" said Dr E. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister of Health. "The appropriate use of a face mask, is one of the comprehensive non-pharmaceutical preventive and control measures adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19 by preventing respiratory droplet transmission. Masks can also be used by healthy persons to reduce exposure".
The NCDC, as part of efforts to strengthen IPC in health facilities, continues to prioritise the training of health workers as well as the timely supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) - including face masks - to state facilities. As Nigeria's public health institute, we will continue to provide periodic advisories on face mask usage – including the making and care of reusable cloth masks.