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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Cross River State branch, has reacted to a controversial comment made by Governor Ben Ayade on face mask.

PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Ayade saying that people who put on face masks do not need to practise social distancing because the mask protects them from being infected with coronavirus.

The Cross River State government has made it mandatory for residents of the state to wear face back whenever they are in public.

“I know once you put on this mask you already have been protected,” Mr Ayade is heard saying in a 50-second video that circulated on Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. “You don’t need social distancing when you are properly protected.”

The state’s branch of NMA is a recent statement said the governor’s remark was capable of luring the people “into a false sense of security by the mere use of face mask”.

The statement was signed by Agam Ayuk and Ezoke Epoke, the NMA state chairman and state secretary respectively.

The NMA said the use of face mask is helpful but does not give “full protection” against COVID-19.

“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Interim Guidance of April 6, 2020, the use of face masks (medical or non-medical) whether for source control (used by infected persons) or prevention of COVID-19 (used by healthy persons) alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection and advises other measures to be adopted,” the statement said.

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“Therefore, face mask is complementary to social/physical distancing of at least 1 meter, avoiding mass gatherings, effective hand and respiratory hygiene and cleaning of all contact surfaces among other measures as recommended by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation.”

The association advised the Cross River State government to rescind its order on some government workers in the state to resume work because it is “ill-timed and not in the best public health interest of the State”.

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