FG Considers Compulsory Use of Masks to Arrest COVID-19

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Nigeria’s government appears to be finally trying to decide whether it should adopt the Chinese scientists or the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) prevention protocol regarding the wearing of face masks as a way to arrest the spread of COVID-19.

All along, the US and WHO’s position has been that face masks are only needed for people in contact with COVID-19 confirmed cases has been Nigeria’s adopted position. But while China has been cutting down on new cases, the US has been recording escalated figures.

Judicial Sketch reported earlier that the international politics of power supremacy has been at the core of this disagreement.

The federal government is therefore said to be considering compulsory use of face masks by all Nigerians to stop the spread of COVID-19, whose cases rose by eight Tuesday to hit 139. It’s also reviewing the protocols for implementing the 14-day lockdown of Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

To step up the treatment of the infected, the government has recalled retired health workers who are now being trained to support the overall preparedness and treatment regimen.

Other measures to combat the pandemic include opening more testing centres so that Nigeria would be able to test 1,500 people daily in a bid to fast-track the detection rate.
Data from the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the country has so far tested over 2,000 people since the outbreak of the pandemic on February 27.

This also forms part of the Chinese scientists’ evidence-based decision to keep testing more and more people.

The federal government is also said to be considering a relief package, targeted at cushioning 11 million people from the difficulties occasioned by COVID-19.

Speaking Tuesday in Abuja at a press briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, NCDC Director-General, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the agency was considering compulsory use of face masks to mitigate against the spread of the virus.

Ihekweazu noted that though the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recommended that face mask should only be used by health workers, NCDC might recommend a national strategy around its use for the public to protect themselves from contracting the virus.

He said the centre was considering that approach in the light of new emerging evidence, adding that for the mask to be effective on a population basis, they might recommend its use for everyone.

“This is a strategy we need to think about before we implement it. Before we implement a national strategy around mask wearing, we have to be sure we can provide it or at least enable access to it. We will allow for the risk assessment and as the evidence comes together, we will make a decision based on the evidence and ability to provide every Nigerian with access to mask,” he said.

Ihekweazu also said NCDC was set to increase its capacity to test for the virus to 1,500 per day. “Last week, we had the capacity to test 500 per day, by the end of this week we will be at 1,000 a day.

“By next week we are hoping to get to 1,500 a day,” he said.
Ihekweazu, however, said Nigerians should reduce the demand side of the testing to those who really needed it.

He noted that the more the people force themselves into being tested, the less NCDC would have the capacity to test those who really need the testing.

Ihekweazu added that those that really need testing would, if not detected on time, be transmitting it into the community and more people would get infected.
According to him, by testing those that do not need it, people are blocking the system and there’s a price to pay.

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