An American based Optometrist and Optometric Glaucoma Specialist, Dr Emeka Nwokedi, has joined the league of Diasporan Akalites calling for proper caution among Nigerians and mostly Akalites based in Nigeria and in Umuaka in particular, to observe every rule required by medical authorities to prevent the spread of Covid19 in the community. Dr Nwokedi who is also the Chief Executive Officer and the Clinical Director Mekas Family Eyecare Inc, Dallas, Texas USA, made this call while answering some questions concerning the pandemic from the American correspondent of Umuaka Times. Dr Nwokedi who went further to settle the controversy, the wearing and non-wearing of face masks during this tasking and precarious period has generated, also appealed to the Imo State Government to create some palliative measures for the indigent citizens of the state, as it is currently done around the world today.
When Umuaka Times called on the doctor and demonstrated its willingness to find out the true situation and the safety of Akalites in the States, Dr Nwokedi confirmed to Umuaka Times that they were fine. ” Yes, we are fine and taking precautions. Thanks for asking. Most of us are staying at home but some essential workers that cannot stay at home strictly follow the recommended guidelines. We pray that our Good Lord protects all of us especially our people in the states of New York, Washington and California that are severely impacted by this pandemic.”
Below is the brief interview:
Dr. Please what is your advice to our people under this Coronavirus crisis?
Well, my advice is not different from all we have been hearing in the news, social media and from governmental agencies. There are so many things to do but the key thing for anyone who does not want to get the corona virus(COVID-19) is to stay at home. Staying at home drops the risk of contracting the disease to near zero. Other preventive measures include: frequent hand washing, frequent use of hand sanitizers, practicing social distancing and staying away from crowds.
There is this great controversy concerning wearing of masks in this period of Covid19. Some say wear, while others say don’t wear.
Face masks are great tools to mitigate the spread of the virus. There are other tools.
Can you name them please?
Hand gloves, face shield, eyeglasses with side shields and other personal protective equipments for healthcare workers. Definitely, all healthcare workers such as Doctors, Nurses, Dentists, Optometrists, Pharmacists etc should wear face masks at all time when in contact with patients at this pandemic period.
Do you mean it is important to wear face masks? if yes why do you consider it important and other medical authorities say no need to wear them.
The reason face mask is important is because Corona virus attacks the respiratory system which the nose is part of and the nose cannot close involuntarily just like the eyes and mouth when someone close to us coughs or sneezes.
So why the controversy over face mask?
The controversy behind members of the public wearing face masks has both hygienic and political undertone.
For real? Can you explain please?
The hygienic undertone revolves around understanding the whole idea of wearing the mask. Medical Masks are disposable devices and should be thrown away after each use.
But here many people wear the disposable ones more than a day or once.
You cannot be wearing a mask for 3 days or 1 week and expect that it is still sterile and cannot be a source of transmission either to yourself or to another person.
What about the political undertone?
The political undertone refers to what we hear on the news and social media concerning contaminated face masks allegedly exported from one country to another. If that is true, it is better we avoid using such masks and rely on locally made masks. Local mask producers should make masks equivalent to and designed like N95 masks.
What is N95 mask?
It is a superior mask. You can check it up online and see how it is designed. It forms a seal around the nose and mouth, without creating any opening between it and the skin. It is called N95 because when carefully tested, it blocks at least 95% of very small test particles such as organisms 0.3 microns in size.
This means not all the masks can protect, especially the type we wear here?
I agree with you that some masks called surgical masks or regular face masks cannot protect members of the public from contracting Corona virus because they may not prevent the virus from penetrating into someone’s nose or mouth because of their nature.
So what can such masks protect then?
FDA cleared surgical masks are designed to protect against splashes and sprays and are mainly used in the hospitals and during surgery. However, some people who already have the virus can use them(surgical or regular face masks) to limit the spread when they cough, sneeze or talk just like using the palm or elbow to cover the mouth while coughing or sneezing. Yes. That’s why I mentioned N95 mask above.
So how do our people get the N95 masks?
One thing I want to point out is that N95 masks are expensive and not everyone can afford them considering their disposable nature. This is another area that the government can come to the aid of the people.
So what can we do in Umuaka then to avoid the disease?
If we can all follow NCDC guidelines and stay at home, practice social distancing of 6 feet between one person and another, wash hands with soup or use hand sanitizers frequently, avoid touching our faces and avoid crowds, then the risk of getting the disease would be very low.
Generally what is your message for Umuaka people at home and abroad?
Well, Umuaka people need good strategies to solve communal problems. The problem I see here is lack of effective leadership and organization embraced by the 10 villages and their people. With good leadership, sky will be our limit.
If we are well organized and united as was the case several decades ago, it would be a lot easy for Umuaka people to have one voice on any issue we want to tackle.
What about Covid19?
On Coronavirus pandemic, community and church leaders should rise to the occasion, create awareness and educate people on the reality of the pandemic. They should stop people from crowding together or going to market places. People can be selling their items in front of their houses in the meantime or write their telephone numbers in front of their stores or offices for potential customers until this pandemic is over.