As part of the new set of guidelines that accompanied the ease of the lockdown in Nigeria, the Federal Government has mandated the use of face masks in public to help curb community spread. Since the 4th of May, the use of cloth face mask as a viable alternative has skyrocketed in Nigeria owing to the global shortage of medical face mask. Experts and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have however warned that cloth face masks are not an effective protection against Coronavirus.
The NCDC has warned that although face masks made from regular fabric can protect against respiratory droplets, they are not an effective protection against COVID-19 and should only be used in conjunction with social distancing, regular hand washing under running water and good personal and environmental hygiene.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. That is why public health experts have advised the use of face masks to help prevent the spread. According to International Standards Organisation, a suitable and standard medical face mask, they must posses the following properties;
- Bacterial filtration efficiency.
- Splash resistance
- Microbial cleanliness among others.
In addition, a medical face mask is generally composed of a filter layer woven within a fabric. Cloth face masks clearly do not comply with any of the above mentioned properties hence their inability to serve as a protective barrier against COVID-19.