The masks are medical devices which, along with other protective and hygiene measures, we allow to avoid exposing ourselves and protect our environment from contamination with pathogens. COVID-19 infection is transmitted by drops. These are produced by the patient when coughing, sneezing that can travel about a meter.
The effectiveness of filtration depends on the medical device that we have at our disposal. The different types of masks prevent our environment from spreading and/or protecting ourselves. Therefore, it is important to understand what kind of scenario we are going to find ourselves in.
Types And Uses Of Masks
There are multiple protection masks on the market to deal with all kinds of gases and particles. But in the healthcare field, two main types are used: surgeon masks and highly effective masks. The difference between the two products is the filtration and the direction of the air flow.
The surgical masks are what we use all to prevent the spread of the pandemic in situations where we have contact with others who are not infected. High-risk masks are indicated for all who are in contact with COVID-19 positive people.
The surgical mask does not filter the inhaled air; therefore it does not protect us effectively. Its main objective is to avoid transmission. In this fight we are all responsible for protecting and stopping the spread of the virus. It is important to wear a surgical mask in everyday situations where we are not absolutely certain that we are immunized against the corona virus.
High risk or high efficacy mask
The filter masks are considered EPI. An EPI is the Individual Protection Equipment, a device that is worn with the aim of protecting against risks that may threaten the health of the health worker, in this case exposure to the corona virus. The number of FFPs is greater the greater it’s filtering capacity, which can range from 70 to 98%.
The high efficiency filter masks Filtering Face Piece (FFP) has different categories depending on the percentage of particles that they are capable of retaining. So we have FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks.
In the care of the patient with corona virus a mask with a minimum filtration efficiency equivalent to FFP2 and FFP3 in case of aerosol generation. Aerosols are small particles that travel through the air over distances of more than a meter and can be produced, for example, in the hospital environment.
However, this type of air transmission has less impact if the patient and contact staffs are protected with appropriate measures.
Why COVID19 patients not wear a valve mask?
If the infected patient wears an FFP3 mask with a valve, when he inhales, he filters the air outside, but when he exhales, he expels the air contaminated with pathogens. Facial protection must have in the case of patients the ability to retain the air that we expel. Therefore, the surgical mask is effective for these situations.
Do all respiratory patients need to wear a mask?
Although the piece must ensure correct ventilation for the user, not all patients should use it. Depending on the type of pathology that the respiratory patient exists, the use of a protective mask may be contraindicated. Therefore, any particular question must always be resolved by a doctor.
Can I make my own surgeon-type mask?
Given the difficulty of acquiring an approved protective mask, the general public can choose to make their own homemade versions. To be effective against the corona virus, we must follow the recommended guidelines for its preparation and when its use is indicated. These measures do not protect the wearer, but are very helpful in delaying the spread of the virus by helping asymptomatic people to help prevent the virus from spreading to others.
What is an PPE?
A PPE is Personal Protective Equipment. It is a device or means that a person is going to carry or have to protect it against one or more risks that can threaten their health and safety. For example, gloves, mask, gown…
Are there other routes of transmission?
In addition to droplet transmission, contact transmission can occur. This occurs directly when we have contact with a patient or indirectly when we are exposed to contaminated elements, such as objects, food or other elements previously in contact by the microorganism.
The third transmission route is by air. This is produced by droplets smaller than 5 microns, which contain pathogens and can remain in the air for long periods of time and be transmitted over distances of more than one meter. In this case, exposed persons should wear high-risk masks.
We must not forget that this is a preventive measure and that we will always need to continue to maintain proper hand hygiene for these guidelines to be effective. As well as not touching the face, place the sanitary products (masks, gloves, gowns) in the appropriate way and carry out a correct disinfection and cleaning of the elements that could be exposed.