Daily, cases of the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread rapidly across the world, having significant impacts on healthcare systems, global economy, social and religious activities with societal disruption. Although lots of research are ongoing, there is no known agreed cure or potent vaccine in the market to combat the spread. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended guidelines for the prevention and control of the spread. It advises that isolation, testing and treating every suspected COVID-19 case, and tracing every contact, must be the backbone of the response in every country. Furthermore, the world body strongly recommends social distancing, considered the first line of defence for containing an infectious disease like the COVID-19. Social distancing involves people keeping a physical distance of up to two metres from one another, because the disease spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or when one touches surfaces on which the virus resides. Also recommended are use of personal protective equipments (PPEs) such as face masks, hand sanitizer, regular hand washing with soap and running water as potent forms of suppressing the spread of COVID-19. Facemasks are crucial now in the battle against COVID-19. According to experts, although homemade masks would not protect someone from getting sick, they help to prevent an individual from spreading COVID-19 to others if infected. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals should wear a facemask when going out in public, in addition to maintaining social distancing and other preventive measures. According to the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus are asymptomatic, lacking symptoms, and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity. For example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing, even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. Also, WHO, in its 'Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19, Interim Guidance' of June 5, 2020, advised that use of facemasks is part of a comprehensive package of the prevention and control measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19. The world
body said masks can be used either for protection of healthy persons (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for source control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission). WHO, however, emphasized that use of facemasks alone is insufficient for adequate prevention and control, saying compliance with hand hygiene, physical distancing and other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures are critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of COVID-19. Unfortunately, many Nigerians are not taking these preventive measures seriously. While many are not observing social distancing, they do not also consider it very necessary to wear a facemask when going out to public places like markets, offices, supermarkets, grocery stores, etc, leading to continuous spread of the virus. COVID-19 updates from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), published at 6:10pm on Sunday June 28, 2020, showed that Nigeria has so far recorded 130,164 COVID-19 samples, 24,077 confirmed cases, 14,894 active cases, 8,625 discharged cases, and 558 deaths. This means the nation is still at risk of the disease. Hence, preventive measures must be applied. This is why the state government recent "no facemask, no trading" policy for both buyers and sellers in all markets across the state is very commendable. The secretary to the state government and chairman, Akwa Ibom State COVID-19 Management Committee, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, who announced the policy at a meeting with leaders of traders' associations across the state, said every trader bringing wares into any market to sell and every buyer coming into the market to buy must be checked at the entrance to ensure their use of the facemask. The policy should equally apply to all offices, supermarkets, hospitals, churches and other public places as compliance would ensure that behaviours that aid community transmission of the virus are adequately checked. Among other things, sensitization and awareness campaigns must be sustained on the mass media, through local government offices, traditional institutions, religious bodies, etc, while individuals, organizations and communities must ensure strict adherence to preventive guidelines of the World Health Organization and NCDC, since preventive measures usually prove cost effective than treatment.