Medical practitioners in the country have called on Nigerians to take adequate care of their faces in order to avoid COVID-19 infection.

This is even as the Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation counsel people against touching their eyes, nose, mouth or other parts of the face for the same reason.

In separate interviews, they suggested that constant washing, wearing of face masks and shields and adherence to other guidelines released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control were of the essence in COVID-19 prevention.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, Professor of Virology, Department of Virology, University of Ibadan, Prof. David Olaleye, explained that the face is important in the transmission of COVID-19 because humans become infected with the virus through openings (orifices) in the facial part of the body.

“The virus primarily infects the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Thus, the main portals of entry are the nostrils, mouth and the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelids). In the same way, the virus is released from infected persons through the same openings.

So, among the strategies for prevention are frequent hand washing with soap and running water to minimise infection from whatever we might have picked with our hand to the nostrils or mouth or connective (face).

Others are physical distancing to avoid inhaling droplets that may have come from other persons and covering our mouth and nostrils with a clean cloth (face mask) in the public,” he urged

He reiterated that the use of face covering would prevent shedding out of virus by infected persons and preventing others from becoming infected in public places or gathering.

His view was shared by the National Chairman of Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Madu, who described the human face as “an essential part of the body that is exposed openly to respiratory tract infection from COVID-19.”

“Just like the common cold virus (catarrh), this virus gains entrance into the body mainly through the respiratory system. The nose forms the beginning of the respiratory tract and goes through the throat down to the wind pipe (trachea) and then into the lungs.

“The nose, mouth, eyes and even the ears are all connected; and whatever gains entrance into them can finally find its way into the lungs. Thus, touching the face with infected hands can easily lead to breathing challenge and a severe form of pneumonia called COVID-19,” he said

The New York Times reports that one of the more difficult challenges in public health has been to teach people to wash their hands frequently and to stop touching the facial mucous membranes — the eyes, nose and mouth, which all serve as entry portals for coronavirus and many other germs.

“It’s a quirk of human nature that we touch our eyes, noses and mouths all day long. It’s also a major way we pick up infections like coronavirus,” the medium stated.

A consultant endocrinologist in the private sector, Dr. Bolanle Okunowo, said one factor that some people fail to consider is that COVID-19 is both a droplet and a respiratory infection.