Covid-19: Face masks rules not abolished yet, NCDC insists

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has declared that Nigeria’s rules on face masks have not been completely abolished.

Its director-general, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

Adetifa said the use of face masks indoors or in other high-risk settings such as in public transport was still recommended while the use in outdoor places was now discretionary in the country.

He added that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19 was leveraging available evidence such as the continuous downward trend of Covid-19 positive case numbers in the country to revise the Travel Protocol.

He said the country had also implemented a four-tier consolidation phase of the Covid-19 pandemic response focused on continued surveillance, genomic sequencing, surge testing, and vaccination.

The NCDC boss said face mask use as a component of public health safety measures had been an important part of the Covid-19 response in the country.

“As vaccination coverage rises in countries, relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions including mask mandates is increasing.

“However, the recent Covid-19 surges in many countries have led to questions of whether face masks should be encouraged or required, and for how long. Proper mask use reduces the probability of transmission between an individual who is infectious and one who is susceptible to infection and helps protect those with a high risk of infection and severe disease,” he said.

He said there were increased cases of the virus in South Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Russia, Netherlands, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Turkey, Austria, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Switzerland, New Zealand and Chile.

“In the past week, there have also been increases in deaths in South Korea, Malaysia, and New Zealand. As long as there are cases elsewhere, Nigeria remains at risk.

“From our travel testing, we see the UK and U.S. as some of the countries with the highest proportion of returning travelers with positive Covid-19 test results.

“Yet, some of these countries like the UK have fully relaxed pre-departure or post-arrival tests for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We cannot copy what countries do because of important differences.”

Adetifa said data had continued to inform the decision-making and the PSC on Covid-19 would continue to keep Nigerians informed as it had done with the new travel protocol changes.

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