The world lately is gripped with the fear of Coronavirus and face masks are a really important component to save lots of us from catching an infection. But thanks to the pandemic, the planet is facing a shortage of those masks and hence judicious use of face masks is paramount. So, i’m sharing tips not just on the way to judiciously use face masks but the way to reuse, disinfect and discard this essential but biohazard commodity. Don’t forget it’s not just the utilization of a mask that’s important but it’s equally important to use it properly. Also, the worth of hand hygiene and sanitizing your hands with alcohol-based sanitizers or soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds can’t be underestimated. Don’t forget to disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Avoid touching eyes, face, nose and mouth the maximum amount as possible. Please discard used tissues also immediately within the dustbin. Also, disinfect the surfaces frequently with alcohol. Please fit the mask snugly round the nose and it must be completely covering your nose and mouth and not just hanging loosely round the neck otherwise the aim of using the mask is defeated. Don’t ever touch the front surface of the mask as that’s the contaminated portion. The masks commonly in use are cloth masks, 3 layered surgical masks, and N95 respirator. i will be able to be discussing all of those , one by one.
A) Who should be using which face mask?
Please remember people in healthiness needn’t wear a mask if they’re staying reception and not taking care of any sick patient.
Cloth mask – Not ideally recommended when taking care of infected patients as they’re doing not provide adequate protection but they are still better for routine use than not covering your mouth and nose. However, employing a HEPA filter with a mask might increase its effectiveness but it results in more difficulty in breathing. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter means a filter that’s a minimum of 99.97% efficient in removing mono-disperse particles of 0.3 micrometers in diameter. For the overall public, if a mask isn’t available a minimum of a bandana or a shawl could also be wont to cover the face.
Surgical mask – Loose-fitting, a disposable device made from polypropylene, could also be effective in blocking particle droplets, splashes, sprays which can contain germs, keeping them from reaching mouth and nose – doesn’t block small particles within the air which will be transmitted by nearby coughing or sneezing.
To be employed by persons caring for sick persons with respiratory infections and symptoms as cough, sneezing and fever, and health care and frontline workers.
N95 respirator – Not for routine use for the overall public. It’s made from polypropylene material. These respirators filter a minimum of 95% of very small (0.3 microns) particles. These respirator masks are capable of trapping 95%, 99% and 99.9% of particles, smaller up to 0.3 microns in size.
N95 FFRs are capable of filtering out all kinds of particles, including bacteria and viruses. It should be used judiciously only. It should be worn by:
- Healthcare and frontline workers who are getting to patients with respiratory infections as cough, cold and patients under investigation.
- While entering rooms of confirmed or suspected COVID patients.
- While obtaining clinical specimens, soiled medical supplies and equipment or whosoever are available contact with potentially contaminated environmental surfaces.
B) the way to eliminate a second hand mask? (Remember masks should be treated as medical waste)
Different germs can survive on a second hand mask for various durations. Experts feel that viruses, when left exposed, can survive between a couple of hours and a couple of days. My earnest request to all or any of you isn’t to throw the used mask indiscriminately in lifts, parks, workplaces, homes, open dust bins because it can pose a possible hazard to people that are available contact with such masks. Also, some people are picking them up for re-use and hence putting their life in peril . The infected masks have respiratory secretions on them and may be dispersed and transmitted through the air. So, please be sensitive. Always wash your hands before and after beginning the mask.
Cloth mask (Wash) – Should be washed properly and regularly and left to hold and air dry.
Surgical mask (Fold, tie, wrap) – It should be removed chin upwards and please lookout to get rid of it from the strings and take care to not touch the front portion while beginning the mask. After taking the mask off, please fold it half inwards, such droplets from mouth and nose aren’t exposed. Then, fold the mask into another half, until it’s sort of a roll. The mask also can be wrapped with its ear loops in order that it’ll not unravel. Then wrap the mask during a tissue or polythene bag and immediately discard it within the yellow waste bag. Keep the items handy before disposing it off.
N95 respirator – When removing the mask, hold the sting of the straps attached to require of the N95 mask. Don’t touch the within a part of the respirator. Wash hands before and after it. Gently remove the mask so as to not disseminate contaminants on the mask. Place the mask during a bag or zip-lock bag. you’ll also store them during a breathable container like a sack between uses. Secure the bag tightly. Place the bag into ashcan or biomedical waste disposal unit. Never placed on a replacement mask until you’ve got properly washed your hands.
C) Can we reuse or sterilize the mask?
Most face masks are disposable and are for one-time use only. Ideally, face masks shouldn’t be used once they’re soiled or the inner lining gets moist. Rarely they will be sterilized for limited reuse. If you would like to reuse the mask, it should be kept dry in order that it can last long. While removing the mask please don’t put it under the chin in order that germs there’ll not attach to the mask. Please don’t leave used masks on any surface because it are going to be a source of infection. It should be properly stored in order that it are often reused.
Reuse – refers to the practice of using an equivalent N95 respirator for multiple encounters with patients but removing it after each encounter. It’s stored in between encounters to be placed on again.
- Cloth mask – are often properly washed, disinfected, dried and reused.
- Surgical mask – If it’s dry and therefore the layers and shape are intact, put it during a zip lock pouch with a desiccated gel. The gel absorbs moisture and keeps the mask dry. If the mask is unbroken and not torn, it are often reused for 3 days. If it’s worn by an infected person, it should never be reused or shared.
- N95 respirator – once you aren’t using it, please store it during a closed plastic container and eliminate and frequently clean the storage containers. When reusing the N95 respirator, leave a second hand mask within the dry atmosphere for 3-4 days to dry it out. Polypropylene in N95 is hydrophobic and contains zero moisture. COVID-19 needs a number to survive – it can survive on a metal surface for up to 48 hours, on plastic for 72 hours and on cardboard for 72 hours. If the respirator is dry for 3-4 hours, the virus wouldn’t have survived. Best is to use four N95 masks and number them 1-4. On day 1 use mask 1, then let it dry for 3-4 days. On day 2 use mask 2 then let it dry for 3-4 days. Same for Day 3 and Day 4. Another method is to sterilize the N95 mask by hanging it within the oven (without contacting metal) at 70 degrees C for 30 min. Or use a wooden clip to hold the respirator within the kitchen oven. N95 masks are degraded by UV light so keep them faraway from UV light or sunlight. Label the string of the mask together with your name in order that nobody else uses it. Follow the rules provided by the manufacturer or use it maximum up to five times.
D) What are the recommendations for the extended use of N95 respirators?
If the supplies are limited as during a pandemic situation, the user are often extended to guard health care workers from the danger of infection. Extended use refers to the practice of wearing an equivalent N95 respirator for repeated close contact encounters with several patients, without removing the respirator between patient encounters. Extended use could also be implemented when multiple patients are infected with an equivalent respiratory pathogen and patients are placed together in dedicated waiting rooms or hospital wards. Studies have shown that respirators can function within their design specifications for 8 hours of continuous or intermittent use.
E) When to discard the N95 respirator?
- Discard N95 respirators following use during aerosol-generating procedures.
- Discard masks contaminated with blood, respiratory or nasal secretions, or other bodily fluids from patients.
- Following close contact with any patient co-infected with an communicable disease requiring contact precautions.
- Consider the utilization of a cleanable face shield over N95 when feasible to scale back surface contamination of the respirator.
- Use a pair of unpolluted gloves when donning a second hand N95 respirator and performing a user seal check. Discard the gloves after use properly.
If the overall public, also as health care workers, lookout of of these precautions we will prevent the spread of infection to ourselves also on people around and also prevent the depletion of supplies of masks during any pandemic. So stay safe, and don’t forget the importance of hand hygiene and therefore the use of other personal protective equipment (PPE) at the time of need. Wishing for a COVID Free World soon.