Medical experts including the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora have allayed the fears of citizens who were feeling jittery over the initial sudden increase in the price of protective face masks, in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic in Nigeria.
The practitioners asserted that face masks are not needed except for caregivers working in isolation centres and people living in cities with high volume of the infection like China, Italy, France and so on.Speaking with Pharmanewsonline in an exclusive chat, Dr Titilayo Daudu, a public health practitioner, explained that people living in areas without much risk of the viral disease need not stock face masks, as what is required is regular handwashing with soap and water, with the use of alcohol based hand sanitisers.
She said: “Face mask is basically for only those working in isolation centres, while others need to keep some distance from any suspected case. Shaking of hands, hugging, kissing, should be highly discouraged for now, as they are means of contacting the disease”. The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, in the same vein, discouraged handshake for now, as he noted that he practiced leg-shaking with the NIMR DG, Prof. Babatunde Salako on his arrival at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Yaba, Lagos, for a 3-day conference.
Sharing facts about COVID-19 at the conference, he said the most worrisome thing about the viral disease is the ease of spread, not fatality, as the most quoted sources of the spread are the two human palms, “they carry millions of germs unconsciously”. He listed other sources of contacting the virus to include: “Microphones, podiums, automobile handles, door handles, official and domestic furniture, aside personal human contacts”. While establishing the fact that an average human being touches his face up to 99 times a day, he urged the practitioners to avoid touching their faces, as the face is a major port of entrance for the virus into the human body.“You don’t need face mask, if you don’t work in isolation centres or high risk countries like China, Italy, France, etc.”, he cautioned.
Mamora also advised citizens to desist from self-medication, saying if they discover any symptopm of fever, they should see their doctor immediately, because “so much is known and so much is unknown”. He however lauded NIMR’s management for blazing the trail in the introduction of such capacity building in the area of Neglected and Tropical Diseases (NTDs), as that was the first time such training was taking place in the country, with large number of participants in attendance. He called on other institutions to follow suit and partner with the institute. Speaking with another practitioner at the conference on the need to wear face mask for the prevention of coronavirus, Dr Emmanuel Kalu, of Malens Diagnostic Centre, Lagos, said wearing of face mask is not necessary for now in the country, “as officials of the FMoH, have assured us that they are on top of the situation, and we can testify to their swift response, even with the confirmation of the second case.
“Personally I think, it was due to panic reaction that moved people enmass in search of face marks, which made the price suddenly jump up. Just like the minister has said, it is not needed for now, except for those caregivers in isolation centres, and other high risk countries”, he remarked. Pharmanewsonline gathered that there was panic purchase of face masks, immediately the index case was announced, which explained the hike in the price of the protective apparel.
Many Nigerians had taken to their social media handles to narrate their frustration in search of face masks to no avail. One of them, Julius Bokoru, a Facebook user, took to his page to narrate how it was difficult for him to get a face mask in Abuja, the Federal Capital City, on Friday.He explained thus: “Drove virtually round Abuja this morning in search of face masks and hand sanitiser. All sold out within a few hours. Na Abuja o, no be Lagos sef.”Amid the frustration, Kate Ege, another Facebook user, sought recommendations on how she could get the materials in bulk on Friday in Lagos.