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COVID-19: No Evidence Face Shield Alone Can Provide Primary Protection — NCDC

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says there is no evidence that a face shield alone can provide
primary respiratory protection against Covid-19.

The Director General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, made the remark in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in
Abuja, while reacting to the increasing use of face shields by members of the public.

He said “there is strong evidence that wearing face mask protects both healthcare workers and the public against COVID-19 infection and should continue to be used.”

NAN reports that following evolving evidence on the transmission of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on June 5, 2020 that
governments should encourage their citizens to wear face masks.

WHO says face mask should be worn where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult such as in public transport, markets and
confined or crowded environments.

Prior to this, the Federal Government on April 27, 2020, through Mr Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and
the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, announced the compulsory use of face mask or covering in public spaces.

Since then, Nigerians adapted the use of face masks in public settings and some have now started wearing face shields.

However, the NCDC boss said “there is evidence that a face shield might reduce exposure in healthcare workers but they are not meant to function alone
as primary respiratory protection.

“In addition, there is limited to no evidence on the effectiveness of face shields for community use by members of the public.

“Face shields are most important in healthcare settings to protect healthcare workers during processes such as intubation, the process of inserting a tube,
called an Endotracheal Tube (ET), through the mouth and then into the airway.

“We do not have evidence that using face shields outside healthcare settings can protect members of the community.

“Therefore, this is a practice that should not be promoted until we have sufficient evidence that they offer protection when used by members of the public,” he explained.

Ihekweazu explained that even when a face shield was used by health workers, “it is used in combination with face mask. However, this is not for members of the public to use.

“A recent meta-analysis published in the Lancet scientific journal of 172 observational studies done across 16 countries and six continents, showed that wearing face mask
protects people (both healthcare workers and the general public) against infection by coronaviruses, and that eye protection could confer additional benefit for health workers only.”

NAN recalls that there are no published studies on the effectiveness of the use of face shield against COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings.

While masks protect others around from germs the wearer may be carrying, face shields do the opposite.

SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 can spread through close proximity to others, often by speaking, coughing or sneezing.

This led to the recommendation to the general public to wear cloth masks in public.

The Chairman of the PTF, Boss Mustapha, had urged Nigerian tailors to start mass producing face masks using the country’s local fabrics.

He said it was time for Nigerian tailors to start producing locally-made face masks with “our fabric”, adding that with such move, the risk of infecting others would be reduced.

According to Mustapha, it is important to note that face masks should not be seen as a single protection.

‘“Members of the public are urged to maintain physical distance of two metres, wash their hands frequently with soap and running water, avoid large gatherings and adhere to other measures announced by NCDC for COVID-19 prevention,” he said.

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Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.

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