Wednesday, July 14, 2021 / 10:57 AM / By Africa CDC / Header Image Credit: Africa News Room
Pandemic Action Network, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Union, 3M and over 50 global, regional, and local partner organizations announced today the launch of World Mask Week 2021 (July 12-18) - a global campaign underlining a universal truth: masking in public, in combination with handwashing and physical distancing, is still one of the best ways we can protect ourselves and others against COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable community members as countries race to vaccinate their populations.
According to WHO, 2021 is already a deadlier year in the pandemic than 2020. Today, we are seeing a two-track pandemic emerge: some regions are up against the spread of variants and rising case numbers, while others with access to vaccines are lifting masking and other public health restrictions.
"Everyone who has worn a mask in public has helped slow the spread of COVID-19," said Deputy Director of the Africa CDC, Dr. Ahmed Ouma Ogwell. "As the pandemic continues to spread and access to vaccines has been slow across much of Africa, we must fight against pandemic fatigue and continue to do what we can to keep everyone safe."
The campaign encourages people and organizations around the world to rally behind the continued importance of wearing a mask. People will be asked to show their support by sharing a statement on social media with #WorldMaskWeek, and a picture, or video with their favourite mask, tagging others with the message of "Thanks For Masking".
"The pandemic is not over. We should rightly recognize and encourage our progress, but we must also put our expertise to work and stay vigilant in fighting the pandemic," said Dr. Denise Rutherford, senior vice president and chief corporate affairs officer, 3M. "3M and our team members will continue to do our part. We are proud to participate in World Mask Week because when you wear a mask, you are helping protect the most vulnerable. To all who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, we thank you."
Face coverings block the spray of droplets from sneezing, coughing, talking, singing, or shouting when worn over the mouth and nose. Consistent mask-wearing can also reduce the spread of the virus among people who are infected with COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, or are unaware they have it. While a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent serious illness and death, the extent to which it keeps people from being infected and passing the virus on to others is still emerging.
"Last year, with the first World Mask Week, we sparked a global movement in 117 countries to wear masks. This year, as the pandemic persists in much of the world, we're coming together around the message that masking still matters and to show gratitude for those who have worn a mask and continue to mask up," said Eloise Todd, Co-Founder of the Network. "In order to end this pandemic for everyone, we must deploy all the tools available around the world to fight COVID-19 â€“ and that includes mask-wearing." To mark the urgency of this moment, Pandemic Action Network has released a Why Masking Still Matters policy brief including key messaging and recommendations for governments, businesses, and individuals.
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 launching, the Network has been working with influencers to promote mask-wearing, along with social distancing and handwashing. World Mask Week provides the opportunity for global unity around a single message: Let's keep masking - not just for ourselves, but for our families, our communities, those who are most vulnerable, and the world.