Coronavirus – Africa: World Mask Week aims to inspire global movement to wear face coverings in public
The Pandemic Action Network, WHO, Africa CDC, US CDC and US CDC Foundation, Facebook, Google, Global Citizen and 40+ partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Weekfrom August 7-14, an effort to increase the use of face coverings in public across the globe.
Given the alarming exponential increase of infection rates across the globe, sustained community masking in public is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as situations vary around the world. And until we have vaccines or medicines to fight COVID-19, face coverings are one of the best tools we have – particularly where social distancing is not practical.
“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the transfer of droplets. As the pandemic continues to gain momentum in Africa, we must increase compliance to the public health and social measures so we can protect ourselves and protect our economy. We must increase mass wearing of masks as we expand testing and treatment services,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
The initiative encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the importance of wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 during World Mask Week and every week until there is a vaccine available. People can show their support by sharing a statement, picture or video on social media, tagged with #WorldMaskWeek.
“Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires everyone to play a role to keep themselves and their communities safe and healthy. Health experts have made it clear that wearing a mask is a key and simple preventive measure,” said KX Jin, Head of Health, Facebook. “We’re proud to partner on World Mask Week with leading healthorganizations as part of our commitment to connecting people to the expert guidance of those working on the frontlines.”
“Google is committed to helping share one simple message: Wear a Mask,” said Dr Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google. “From our homepage doodle, to providing information on Google Search and Maps, we are connecting people to helpful, authoritative resources that explain how wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
The US CDC Foundation is another Pandemic Action Network partner marking World Mask Week. “We’re committed to supporting the response to the public health threat posed by this virus, and wearing a face covering consistently and correctly is one of the most important things we can do as individuals to fight COVID-19,” said Dr Judy Monroe, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “The US CDC Foundation is helping organize and support a number of campaigns, including campaigns with US CDC and the Ad Council, focused on the importance of face coverings to crush COVID-19.”
Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. They serve as barriers that help prevent droplets from traveling into the air.1,2,3 Since people may have COVID-19, but not know it or have symptoms, consistent mask wearing can reduce the spread of the virus.4,5 Mathematical modeling shows that masks worn by 80-90 percent of the population coupled with social distancing could eventually eliminate the disease.6
“Inconsistent policies on masking have caused confusion and there is mounting evidence that failing to wear masks is contributing to the spread of COVID-19,” said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Pandemic Action Network. “Leaders should make clear and consistent policies around the importance of wearing a mask outside the home when in public. If nearly everyone wears a mask, practices handwashing and social distancing we can end the pandemic more quickly, prevent suffering and save lives.”
Global Citizen is supporting World Mask Week by encouraging Global Citizens to wear a mask. “We are proud to support World Mask Week as our supporters take action in every corner of the globe to push their leaders to adopt clear rules on wearing a mask in public,” said Michael Sheldrick, Chief Policy and Government Affairs Officer, Global Citizen. “We also need global leaders to govern by example. When we all wear masks, citizens become more focused on listening to the guidance of the medical community, and together we are better suited to help save lives.”
The Pandemic Action Network was launched in April 2020 to drive collective action to help bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. Since launch, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask wearing– along with social distancing and handwashing – to help stop the spread of COVID-19. World Mask Week provides the opportunity to continue to sustain this momentum, uniting disparate parties around a single message.
World Mask Week partners and activities represent a broad spectrum. For example:
- WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus launched the #WearAMask challenge to mark the beginning of World Mask Week, asking people to share their mask photos and videos.
- Africa CDC will announce World Mask Week at their press briefing today and follow-up with a presentation by Pandemic Action Network during a training on infection prevention and control for COVID-19 being organized for journalists later in the day. Africa CDC is also posting messages about World Mask Week on its social media platforms.
- The gaming industry, under its #PlayApartTogether initiative, is integrating World Mask Week messages and images into its games.
- iHeartMedia is integrating World Mask Week content into their programming.
- World Economic Forum and their Global Shaper and Young Global Leader networks will join the campaign via social media.
For more information, visit worldmaskweek.com.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
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