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Face masks made of clothes, can’t prevent COVID-19 spread – NAFDAC

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THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Monday said that the use of non-medical face masks, which include self-made or commercial masks or face covers made of clothes only reduce and not prevent spread of the coronavirus disease.

  Director General of the agency, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, in a statement issued in Abuja, said these categories of protective masks are not of standard but essential to limit the spread of droplets. 

  She said: “Non-medical face masks include self-made or commercial masks or face covers made of clothes, other textiles or other materials such as paper. They are not standardised and are not intended for use in healthcare settings or by healthcare professionals.

  “They serve to limit spread of droplets and offer some measure of protection to those around you. The material of construction is usually clothes (textile fabric), non-woven wadding, or paper-like materials. For these Barrier Masks, 100 per cent cotton is preferred though, polyester, linen or knit fabric can be used.”

“Barrier face masks do not prevent you from contracting disease but they have been found to contribute to reducing spread of infections when used widely in conjunction with other measures. Such measures include social distancing, not touching the face, eyes or mouth, washing of hands with soap for 20 seconds or use of alcohol based hand sanitizers.”

  Adeyeye stressed that such face masks are recommended to be washed daily and preferably, should be a double layer of fabric to increase its absorbency and effectiveness.

  “It must be noted that several washes, drying and stretching of the mask over time reduce the effectiveness of the mask, “she added.

 Meanwhile NAFDAC has warned healthcare workers not to use face masks made from local clothing materials.

The agency said the non-medical face masks, especially those made from clothes and paper may only reduce the spread of droplets but cannot prevent infection.

In a Press release to enlighten the public on the appropriate use of personal protective equipment, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the available protective masks in the country were made up of medical masks or respirators, as well as non-medical ones.

“Non-medical face masks include self-made or commercial masks or face covers made of clothes, other textiles or other materials such as paper. They are not standardised and are not intended for use in healthcare settings or by healthcare professionals.”

“They serve to limit the spread of droplets and offer some measure of protection when used in conjunction with social distancing and regular washing of hands. The higher the risk, the higher the level of protection needed,” she warned.

While saying that use of face masks made from local fabrics might be restricted to the general public, the NAFDAC boss urged healthcare professionals to opt for polypropylene surgical masks as well as N95, N98 and KN95 respirator masks.

“These respirators provide an airtight seal when fitted correctly, and filter out very small particles, including viruses such as the COVID-19. They are made of fine mesh synthetic polymer fibre. After use, it is also advisable that all contaminated protective clothing should be disposed of in a specially designed rubbish bag,” she counselled.

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