Upturn in demand for reusable African print facemasks

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There has been an increase in demand for reusable, non-medical face masks made from African print, as the nation intensifies efforts to curtail the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

This comes as the President issued a directive requiring the mandatory use of face masks by all individuals in public settings. Consequently, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has issued a statement directing the wearing of face masks in all public places, especially where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing.

Tailors who had witnessed a dip in the patronage of their services in the days leading to, and during the imposition of restrictions of movement, have testified that the production and sale of face masks, especially from left over pieces of fabric, has increased significantly.

Speaking to the B&FT, a seamstress in Dansoman, a suburb of Accra, said, “Indeed, there has been a rise in demand for the face masks. Some people want those we’ve sewn already, others come with their fabrics and indicate what patterns they want, often times, to match their outfit.”

She noted that factors such as quality of fabric used, intricacy of additional designs and ornaments as well as the status of the clientele, determine the prices of the masks.

“We have some ready-made, which we sell for GHc5. Some people want some extra details and for those, we charge between GHc10 to GHc15. Some people sell theirs for GHc20 and above, but that’s mostly because of who their clients are,” she added.

Another tailor noted that the demand for the mask has, in a measure, made up for the loss of income over the last four weeks. He said, “We are quite happy with the demand for the masks, it has helped us make up some of the revenue we lost. We hope the demand continues for some time.”

Reacting to the development, a medical professional who spoke on the condition of anonymity, in an interview with the B&FT indicated that the use of non-medical face mask – which include self-made or commercial masks or face covers made of clothes – serve to limit the spread of droplets and offer some measure of protection to the wearer and those around.

However, they are not standardized and are not intended for use in healthcare settings or by healthcare professionals.

She reiterated calls by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) that the face masks are recommended to be washed daily and preferably should be constructed from a double layer of fabric to increase the absorbency and effectiveness.

“It must however be noted that several washes, drying and stretching of the mask over time, will reduce the effectiveness of these reusable masks,” she stated.

“There’s the danger of having a false sense of security when wearing these masks and neglect other necessary measures. For the masks must to be effective they must be used with other hygienic measures. These measures include observing appropriate social distancing, not touching the face, eyes or mouth, washing of hands with soap as well as the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.”

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