NCDC: A face mask alone won’t protect you from COVID-19

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The country’s first line of defence against the virus, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has advocated the use of face masks as a form of protection from the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), however, again warned that wearing face masks alone will not totally protect one from catching the disease.

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This is an update coming through from the new guidelines published by the NCDC, on the wearing of face masks.

At the outbreak of the disease, the  World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended that people who show symptoms of the COVID-19 influenza  disease should use face masks, in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected.

The WHO advisory further stated that “The use of masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)”. Going by this, Surgical and medical masks play a vital role in clinical settings, and should be reserved for the health care workers in regular contact with patients, especially given their limited global supply.

The use of face masks has been widely enforced in many countries battling the prevailing coronavirus pandemic. Many countries on the Asian continent have mandated the wearing of face masks, especially after the SARS outbreak in 2002.

West African Nation, Ghana, has made the use of face masks an addition to hand and respiratory hygiene, while other African countries like South Africa, the Department of Health has recommended that cloth face masks be worn when in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


In the new guideline, the NCDC advised Nigerians that face masks are only recommended as an additional layer, as an addition to other measures such as physical distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

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The NCDC also explained that COVID-19 is transferred through nasal droplets, and the use of face masks is advised as people who may be asymptomatic (never develop symptoms) or pre-symptomatic (still to develop signs and symptoms) may transmit the virus.

According to the guideline, wearing of face masks alone will not completely protect against getting COVID-19, especially if not worn properly, but it can prevent the spread if someone is coughing and sneezing as their nasal droplets would have less chance of contaminating others.


The disease control agency further Nigerians not get a false sense of protection because they are wearing a mask. It should be combined with physical distancing. In addition, when people wear face masks, cloth masks or other cloth covering for their face, the face masks should be carefully removed and if disposable, thrown away in a dustbin carefully or washed daily if made of cloth.

In addition, the advisory mentions shopping outlets and markets which are often busy. It is noticeable that some shopping outlets where staff members have frequent contact with the public, are putting in place measures like face masks and face shields to safeguard the health of their staff members.

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