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COVID-19: Face mask no longer mandatory in public – FG

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The federal government has announced that while wearing a face mask indoors is recommended, using it outdoors is at people’s discretion.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) director-general Ifedayo Adetifa, using face masks indoors or in high-risk settings like public transport is still recommended but wearing a face mask in outdoor places is discretionary.

He disclosed this on Friday.

Mr Adetifa stated that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 was leveraging available evidence, such as the continuous downward trend of COVID-19 positive cases in the country, to revise the travel protocol.

He added that Nigeria 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 stated that 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,” added the NCDC boss.

“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.”

While many countries are lifting the last set of restrictions, Mr Adetifa said, “We cannot copy what countries do because of important differences. For example, the UK, in addition to having better surveillance and greater capacity for sequencing in place, has vaccinated over 70 per cent of its population and even introduced second booster doses for some at-risk populations.”

Mr Adetifa pointed out that data 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 COVID-19 travel protocol changes.

“This is our best chance at getting back to normalcy as soon as possible as a country, and we must work collaboratively to ensure it is done in the quickest time possible,” he said.

(NAN)