The governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, has said that people who put on face masks do not need to practice social distancing because the mask already protects them from being infected with the novel coronavirus.
Health officials, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), in contrast with Mr Ayade’s assertion, are advising people all over the world to maintain at least one metre (three feet) distance with others, especially anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Mr Ayade’s assertion, which is bound to generate controversy, is contained in a video which is being circulated on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
PREMIUM TIMES could not ascertain when and where the video was shot.
It is mandatory for all residents of Cross River state to wear a face mask whenever they are in the public. There is no confirmed case of the virus in the state, meanwhile.
“I know once you put on this mask you already have been protected,” the governor said in the 50-second video. “You don’t need social distancing when you are properly protected.”
The governor, in the video, is surrounded by a handful of persons, apparently government officials, who clapped and jeered on.
Mr Ayade, including everyone who stood around him, wore a face mask. The governor, characteristically, was bombastic, which elicited laughter from the people.
“Oh, my goodness,” a woman’s voice could be heard shouting in the video as she laughed out loud.
“No mask, no movement,” the governor and the rest of the people in the video chorused two times towards the end of the video.
The Nigerian Medical Association, in a statement on Friday, said they were concerned with the assertion made by Mr Ayade.
According to the WHO, “If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.”
There are 305 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nigeria as of April 10, according to data released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
Nineteen states, out of Nigeria’s 36, have one or more cases of the viral infection, so far. Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, has 163.
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