Frequently Asked Questions
About Masks and PPE
As the world prepares to ease lockdown restrictions, several countries across the globe have made it mandatory for people to wear face masks while in public places.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding masks and PPE.
What is PPE?
PPE is an acronym for personal protective equipment. It is a range of safety covering designed to protect health personnel from exposure to infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. Examples of PPE include face masks, protective clothing, face shields, goggles, and mop caps.
What are the different types of face masks available?
Surgical face masks, N95 and FFP3 respirators as well as cloth masks. Each of these masks is designed to be used by different people for a particular purpose. Cloth masks are recommended for public use.
What are N95 respirators?
N95 respirators are tight-fitting mouth an nose covering. They filter out 95% of airborne particles including, dust, viruses, bacteria and small-large droplets.
What are face Masks
Face masks prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.
Can healthcare workers use a cloth or fabric masks?
There’s been a global shortage of face masks among health workers. Several countries recommend the use of fabric or cloth masks only as an emergency measure if N95 and surgical masks are unavailable.
Do masks replace other prevention measures like washing hands?
No, washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is the most effective measure for preventing the spread of unwanted agents. Social distancing and covering mouth and nose with the elbow are other measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
How do I wear my mask?
Make sure you follow the guidelines on washing hands and sanitize hands with at least 70% alcohol base sanitizer before putting the mask on. Cover both mouth and nose with your mask.
Can I wear the same mask every day?
No, Surgical face masks and N95 respirators are designed for single-use and are meant to be disposed of after each use. Cloth masks should be worn once and washed after each use.
What is the best practice for washing my mask?
Wash mask in hot soapy water and allow to dry in the sun. Iron after each wash and no sharing of masks with other people.
Can I wear a cloth mask when caring for a COVID-19 patient?
The appropriate mask to wear would be a surgical face mask that patients should wear to prevent contamination when sneezing and coughing. If possible, wear a respirator or three-layer cloth mask when caring for the patient and keep the appropriate social distance.
What should a face mask be made of?
Cotton and polyester are recommended when making face masks. Polyester fibers are best when it comes to absorbing less moisture.
What is the correct way to remove my mask?
Make sure hands are washed and clean before touching the face and removing the mask. Only touch the ear loops when removing the mask.
Can medical gloves protect against the coronavirus?
Medical gloves could cause more harm than good when misused. The aim is to protect the wearer from contamination during medical procedures. Dispose of medical gloves after each use.
When can I wear surgical gloves?
WHO recommends the use of disposable gloves when directly dealing with COVID-19 patients. Also, washing hands and sanitizing before wearing the gloves and after wearing the gloves.
Can I wear double gloves?
Double gloves are not recommended as this can cause rupture and cause more harm than good.
Can gloves protect against coronavirus for the general public?
According to WHO, COVID-19 can still be picked up on gloves and further transferred to surfaces.
What is level 1 PPE?
The single-use of disposable gloves, surgical masks, eye protection and disposable apron by healthcare workers.
Why is PPE a last resort?
PPE is a last resort as it may restrict visibility and mobility for performing tasks. In some cases, it can prove to be hazardous and thus should be worn by trained medical personnel in emergencies. This includes treating patients with highly contagious infections and diseases.
How long can I wear a respirator mask?
Manufacturer guidelines differ with each product. However, the consensus is for single use.
Can I reuse my mask?
Masks are intended for single-use and may not be shared between individuals.
What are ventilators?
Ventilators are machines used for assisting patients in regulating their breathing and are often used in ICU.
Why do hospitals need ventilators?
COVID-19 targets the lungs, which may lead to breathing and other respiratory complications in severe cases. With the rise in cases, some healthcare systems may become overwhelmed with not enough ventilators for treating patients.
Can I reuse face shields in between patients?
Similar to N95 respirators, a recommendation is made for cleaning face shields between each patient and disposed of after each shift.
Safe disposal of PPE?
PPE should be disposed of in clinical waste bins to prevent contamination.
Can I wear a mask while exercising?
For most people you can generally wear a mask while exercising, however, you will need to check with your health care professional about best practices for working out with a mask on.