Mr Muntaka Chasant, an entrepreneur in Airmasks and Textiles, has urged the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to test homemade nose masks to ensure their efficacy for protection against the COVID-19.
He said the local production of nose masks was encouraging as it would help beef up the country's stock, however the FDA must ensure they were laboratory-tested to certify their efficacy at capturing small particles from the airstream.
Respiratory protective masks did not go straight from assembly lines to store shelves, Mr Chasant told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Sunday.
“A sample of the respiratory apparatus must pass through rigorous regimes in a laboratory before they are certified to be sold for real-world use, and this process can take months,” he said.
Mr Chasant, an anti-air pollution campaigner, said homemade masks normally used facial tissues and fabrics, which did not give the same effects as in protective masks.
“Wearing homemade masks may have the same effect as wearing nothing at all. This gives the wearer a false sense of security, and that must be avoided at all cost at this point in time,” he said.
Mr Chasant explained further that protective masks should be worn correctly to be effective, and that just putting them on one’s face was not enough.
“There are many types of protective masks in the market, while a significant chunk provides some minimum amount of protection, not all of them are preventive. Masks must form a tight seal around the face to work properly. Even facial air can interfere with the seal between the mask and skin,” he said.
“Surgical masks, for instance, are less protective because they fit very loosely. They are designed to block bodily fluid from the wearer’s nose and mouth, and sometimes splash from other people. But lack of medical supplies means that these are acceptable for the meantime to protect wearers from large respiratory droplets.”
On the other hand, Mr Chasant said particulate respirators such as the “N95 or FFP2” were snug and airtight and when worn correctly, minimised the wearer’s exposure to tiny particles and certain aerosols but were usually difficult to breathe through.
He advised people with lung function disorders to seek medical advice before wearing a respiratory protective device.
He cautioned masks, wearers, to be mindful that protective masks did not entirely remove the risk of illness or infections but could only minimise the wearer’s exposure to infections and must be worn with caution and adherence to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
He said for better prevention of the COVID-19, masks could only be effective when combined with other protective measures such as regular hand washing with soap under running water and physical distancing, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Mr Chasant advised the media to be abreast of the research breakthroughs in understanding the biology of the COVID-19 in order to reassure the public on progress being made.
“Lack of information is heightening the situation for a lot of people, and these breakthroughs could go a long way to help alleviate some of their concerns.”