Big Idea of the Week in Combating the Spread of COVID-19 is…   Wearing Our Masks Correctly Helps Protect Us all 

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SLAJ and NACOVERC Big Idea of the week

By Amin Kef Sesay

The National COVID-19 Emergency Response Center (NaCOVERC) and Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) under their : #Corona Fet Na We All Fet bring Big Idea of the Week 2nd – 8th August, 2020 ‘’Wearing Our Masks Correctly Helps Protect Us all’’.

Although some have denied the presence of coronavirus in the country, however, it has been medically and scientifically proven that indeed COVID-19 is in our midst. Among the various preventive or precautionary measures that were put in place to prevent contracting the virus is the wearing of face masks.

Most people with coronavirus have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. It is possible that you, or the person near you, have the coronavirus and do not even know it.

While most people who have the virus feel fine, they can still spread it to others. Some people who get the virus can get very sick and even die, especially people who are older or have other health conditions. We all have loved ones who are older and have other health conditions.

Sometimes, people do not know they have other health conditions until they get worse and they get sick. Those other health conditions, even when we do not yet know about them, can make our bodies weaker in fighting other sicknesses, like coronavirus. Let’s all do our part to wear our masks correctly and protect our own and each other’s loved ones. Corona fet na we all fet! How does a cloth mask help stop the spread of coronavirus?

Wearing a cloth mask correctly over your mouth and nose helps catch the small liquid droplets from going into the air or onto surfaces that could then spread to other people and make them sick.

Coronavirus spreads easily from person to person. If one person has the virus and spreads it to others, and then each of those people spreads it to others, within a short time, the virus can spread throughout a community.

When someone coughs, sneezes, sings, or even talks, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If someone is close to a person with coronavirus who coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks, they can breathe in the droplets and also get the virus. Wearing a cloth mask correctly over your mouth and nose helps catch the spray of those small liquid droplets from going into the air or onto surfaces that could then spread to other people and make them sick.

That is why wearing a cloth mask correctly, even when we feel healthy, helps stop the spread of coronavirus and protects our loved ones.

Chiefs, Councilors, and Mammie queens, Community leaders are key to promote and/or enforce the use of cloth masks in their communities.

Religious leaders who are leading in-person religious services must ensure compliance of  wearing masks in their places of worship.

Police Officers or security officials who are involved in enforcement of mask use must be very proactive.

Community champions must always use cloth masks such as market women and traders, bafa/ataya/bar/restaurant owners, and traditional healers.

It is important that wearing of cloth masks alone do not stop the spread of coronavirus, but they can help when used together with other actions.  The most effective actions to protect yourself and others against coronavirus are to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, cough and sneeze into your upper arm or sleeve, and keep a safe distance of at least 1 meter or arms-stretched length from others.

These are other vital suggestions to adhere to :Masks made of cloth should be used by members of the public, Masks that you typically see worn by health workers in hospitals should only be used by health workers, people with symptoms of coronavirus, people caring for others with symptoms of coronavirus, and people who are more likely to get seriously sick from the virus including older people and people with other health conditions must mask up.

An effective cloth mask should be held to the head by ties or ear loops. Masks multiple layers of fabric are preferable, fit close against your face,fully cover your mouth and nose and not fall down when talkin, allow for breathing without problem , wash without damaging the mask.

There are different ways to make a cloth mask. You can sew one yourself or give measurements to your tailor to make masks for you.  You can make one yourself that does not require sewing.  Make sure the size of the mask will fully cover your mouth and nose even when you are talking.

It is important to know how to wear a cloth mask correctly and care for it safely. Always wash a cloth mask before trying it on or wearing it. Before putting on a cloth mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based.

Cover your mouth and nose with the cloth mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

Tie the mask behind your head or place the elastic loops over your ears. Make sure the mask fits well. Move it around using the ties or elastic loops to get the best fit. Do not touch the cloth part of the mask. Once you have put on the cloth mask, do not touch your face again until you take it off.

Any Government official found not wearing a mask in a public office building may be fined five hundred thousand Leones (Le500,000) or suspended from duty. Any private business office found to have people inside who are not wearing a cloth mask may be fined five hundred thousand Leones (Le500,000) the first time and closed if found a second time.

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