An infectious disease expert at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Iorhen Akase has urged Nigerians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, warning that almost everyone would eventually get infected with the viral infection.
According to the expert, while Nigerians need to continue adhering to prevention protocols like washing of hands and wearing of facemasks, the citizens must get vaccinated because such measures cannot provide absolute protection against COVID-19 due to the current degree of exposure.
Dr. Akase also noted that there is a need for the appropriate use of face masks generally.
Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Akase, who is also the Head Of Infectious Disease Unit at College of Medicine, University of Lagos, and LUTH, noted that with the degree of exposure, it is important for individuals to prioritise getting the COVID-19 vaccines while also adhering to the non-pharmaceutical measures.
According to him, vaccines are the most critical tool and a game-changing tool in the fight against COVID-19.
“The truth of the matter is that even with the fabric mask there is guidance on the use of masks generally. A single mask made of fabric cannot achieve the purpose of droplet protection because droplets will get absolved in that fabric and the person will still get exposed to COVID-19.
“There is a lot of question whether a single layer mask is effective or not. Of course, wearing a mask is better than not wearing it at all but whether wearing a fabric mask protects you against COVID-19, everybody knows it is not true because the degree of exposure is overwhelming as the country is no longer in lockdown and people are now going out freely.
“In a single day, you are exposed to more than six people that have had COVID-19 knowingly or unknowingly. So, the emphasis right now is for people to get vaccinated, we have gone past the stage of limiting exposure. Hand hygiene and mask-wearing are not enough. They can help at the individual level but at the population level, hand hygiene and mask-wearing is not the answer for us as a country. They are to act as supportive measures but they are not the answer because no matter how you maintain hand hygiene and mask and when you go out, the level of exposure is too much and the emphasis is for you to get vaccinated because, in the end of the day, that is what we bring protection for everyone,” he said.
The expert, however, stressed that fabric masks offer better protection against COVID-19 if they are double-layered or multilayered compared to single layers of cloth
“COVID-19 is here to stay and whether we like it or not, everybody is going to have it. It’s not that the mask doesn’t work anymore but the degree of exposure is simply too much for that to be the primary mode of protection. So, we need to get vaccinated and keep using a face mask and maintain hand hygiene.
“Right from time, fabric masks have not really been very useful, so if they are doubled and people wear them properly, it’s better than nothing at all but the multilayered mask is better,” he said.