by James Kamuye Kataru
Properly wearing a face mask. Image by Kataru Concepts

Today I am driven by headlines released by three East Africa governments on the state of the coronavirus pandemic. I would like to talk to my readers in the region and remind them that as our governments struggle with COVID-19, it is our responsibility to compliment those efforts by observing basic rules to prevent the spread and infection of the Coronavirus.

To keep our region safe from COVID-19, we need to wear face masks properly, at all times, but not only when we see law enforcement officers and fear arrest. We also need to observe World Health Organization (WHO) and the ministry of health guidelines.

To understand the magnitude of the situation, I refer my readers to various government positions on the state of the pandemic, measures that have been put in place to ensure public health and safety. I also urge our citizens to cooperate with their respective governments and health authorities to make the war against COVID-19 successful.

Kenya: A total of 13 counties in the Lake basin region have been declared COVID-19 hot-spots and a lock-down and curfew has been imposed to try and control the spread and reduce infections.

Covid-19 restrictions imposed on Kenya’s lake basin region

Tanzania: The national committee on COVID-19 has urged the Tanzania government to disclose COVID-19 cases to World Health Organization and join the COVAX Facility aimed at equitable vaccine access globally.

Tanzania committee recommends joining covax reporting covid-19 cases

Uganda: The government has declared a total lock-down as infections rise in the hope of stopping the spread of coronavirus.

 Uganda lock-down and Covid-19 restrictions

It is heartbreaking to see large, uncontrolled crowds at markets, malls and other public places wearing their masks on their chins, mouth without covering the nose and, and masks hanging off wrists. It’s equally dangerous to find people in crowded places, public transport systems, and schools without masks.

However, for masks to be effective, they must be worn properly. In the SAWBO RAPID video Properly Using Face Masks, we are reminded how to wear face masks properly. Please watch, download and share this video on WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, via Bluetooth and Xender to help keep your families, and community safe. From this video you’ll also learn about which types of face masks are recommended by healthcare experts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

SAWBO RAPID is a part of SAWBO, who has been creating animations and delivering knowledge globally for over a decade. The SAWBO library contains over 100 animations in 200+ language variants reaching over 50 million known viewers. The SAWBO RAPID project, funded by USAID through the Feed the Future Initiative and supported by the Kenyan USAID Kenya Mission, identifies critical food security topics and delivers knowledge to mitigate COVID-19’s secondary economic impacts, See other SAWBO RAPID animations on their website.

A Swahili video on Properly wearing a face mask from the SAWBO RAPID WEB SITE.

Please consider the following points extracted from this video:

The coronavirus is spread when an infected person talks, breathes, coughs or sneezes by releasing germs into the air that cannot be seen.

These germs can float in the air for several hours.

If these germs reach the nose or mouth of another person not wearing a face mask, that person can easily become infected.

Some people can have COVID-19, feel fine and do not know they are infected, such people can unknowingly spread the disease. Why wear a mask?

•           Masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus and helps to keep you healthy.

Who should wear a mask?

•           Health care experts recommend all adults and children over 2 years old wear a mask whenever outside their home, around people not from their household, inside or outside, engaged in physical activity including play, or whenever caring for someone who is sick with any illness.

How to wear your mask

•           A mask must be snug fitting to be effective.

•           A mask should have ear loops or ties that adjust.

•           Masks that does not cover your nose and mouth completely, allow gaps, fit too loosely, or have vents allow the virus to enter from, or escape into the air.

•           If you always have to adjust your mask, then it doesn’t fit properly.

•           Wearing a second mask on top of the first one can provide better fit and protection by reducing the amount of air that leaks from the mask edges and the number of germs coming through the mask.

Other precautionary measures

•           Carry an extra face mask if possible.

•           Wash cloth masks daily with soap and water, meanwhile it’s safe to launder masks with other items.

•           Masks with a bendable border at the top fit tightly against your nose.

•           Masks made from a single layer of fabric provide less protection.

•           If you make a mask use at least two layers of cloth.

•           Do not cut a hole in the mask to drink because any hole will make it useless.

•           Do not share masks with anyone.

•           Knitted masks and those made of loose woven fabric are not effective.

•           Disposable masks are effective, but cannot be reused.

•           Do not use a handkerchief, face shield or goggles in place of a face mask.

•           Combine a mask and face shield or goggles to increase protection.

•           Before putting on or taking off your mask, wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds.

•           People who have trouble breathing should seek advice from their local health officers on how and when to wear a mask.

•           Those recommended to not wear masks should stay home as much as possible and avoid direct contact with non-household members.

•           A mask is not a substitute for physical distancing.

To reduce the spread of Coronavirus

•           Wear masks properly. Whenever outside your home or around others not in your household whether inside or out.

•           Stay 2 meters apart from those not in your household, or as recommended by your local health officers.

•           Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

•           Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one is available to you.

I encourage my readers to follow the outlined regulations to protect their families and keep their communities safe. No one should wait for the law enforcement officers manning roadblocks, public places and shopping malls to remind them to wear masks properly and observe the COVID-19 rules. The responsibility starts with ourselves.

Note: The information and content in the video (content) should not substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any kind. Michigan State University, Purdue University, and SAWBO disclaims responsibility or liability for any loss or injury that may be incurred as a result of the use of any content included in the video. Viewers and users of the video should always consult a physician or other professional for diagnosis, treatment and/or advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of the content of this video.

SAWBO RAPID is funded through a grant from Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. This blog article was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development under the terms of agreement no. 7200AA20LA00002. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International development or the U.S. government.

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