The use of mask It is an issue that has generated controversy during the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw how at first its use was discouraged because it seemed unnecessary and, finally, now its use is recommended and, in the case of companies, public spaces and transportation is mandatory.
Now, in any case, this sanitary element is widely recommended by public health experts such as doctors from Madrid:
To further expand this scientific information on the use of masks, in which cases you should use them, when not, and more information on why they are recommended by specialists to fight this type of coronavirus, you must read to the end: thus!
Hospital doctors ask that the population wear masks instead of the FFP2 or FFP3 type to contain COVID-19.
In which cases is the mask used?
The use of the mask, since before the pandemic, was recommended for cases of patients with infectious or respiratory diseases and in the medical field, within hospitals, clinics and other environments of the health sector.
Depending on the type of mask, it is given one or another use. There are 3 types according to their Bacterial Protection Efficacy (BFE) and each one has a recommended use:
Type I: 95% minimum BFE. Not indicated for the use of healthcare professionals in operating rooms or similar.
Type II: 98% minimum BFE. Indicated for medical personnel and people with infectious or contagious diseases of the respiratory type or with suspicion of suffering from them.
Type IIR: 98% minimum BFE with antifluids. In some cases it is considered a subtype of Type II. These are indicated for medical personnel in the operating room and similar conditions.
Now, if we refer to what the SEFAP Regarding the masks, we find that they are classified as sanitary equipment, recommended for infected people or those suspected of being infected, as well as for the use of medical or healthcare personnel, except for type I, which are not sufficient for the required protection .
Just in this indication for use in patients or people suspected of being virus carriers, we have the explanation about why the use of the mask is so recommended in this pandemic.
Asymptomatic cases (between 6 and 41% of all COVID-19 carriers) are the main reason why health specialists recommend the use of a mask.
You will see that, as confirmed by the WHO, the percentage of asymptomatic cases of this type of coronavirus has varied between 6 and 41%, with a cumulative estimate of 16%.
Now, the number of asymptomatic patients could be even higher, considering that it has not been possible to test the entire population to determine how many asymptomatic positive cases really are.
Where do we want to go with this? Because, at this point, anyone can be a carrier of the virus and could be transmitting it unconsciously, if they do not follow the biosafety protocols with the mask and the others mentioned by the authorities and public health organizations.
And it is that, although at the time it was said that asymptomatic patients could not transmit the virus, the truth is that they can, as confirmed by the WHO at his press conference on June 11, 2020.
This complexity to contain the spread of the virus by asymptomatic cases, added to the ease with which it spreads through microdroplets, expelled by the infected person when coughing, sneezing or talking, makes people aware of the importance of the use of the mask.
Now, as we have been explaining, it is not enough with just any mask, it should be of a surgical type preferably.
fifteen hospitals in Madrid asked at the time to Ayuso, the president of the Madrid community, deliver masks instead of the FFP2 type, which he planned to deliver to the population.
The medical concern is oriented to the risks that the FFP2 mask may involve:
- Feeling of false security, causing people to neglect the other steps of the protocol, such as avoiding touching their eyes and face, washing their hands, and maintaining social distancing of at least 1 to 2 meters.
- With this breathing is difficult.
- It is uncomfortable and, in some people, it is intolerable.
- It encourages people to touch their faces, increasing the risk of virus droplets entering the conjunctiva (eyes), nose or mouth.
- They generate the need to remove the mask due to difficulty in breathing, irritation or discomfort, leaving the person more exposed to becoming infected or contagious.
- This requires special training for its placement and removal.
- It must be disinfecting, in the case of reusable ones. In the case of non-reusable ones, the problem is that they are more expensive than surgical ones.
Additionally, doctors advise that the use of FFP2 and FFP3 masks with exhalation valves is ineffective and very risky. As mentioned, these do not achieve the function of preventing contagion because they allow the passage of nasal microdroplets or from the mouth of the person using them to those around them.
In turn, doctors indicate that the FFP2 and FFP3 masks, in their ideal designs, should be reserved only for medical personnel who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, in environments where there is a risk that migrogoticles remain suspended in the air for a few minutes, as occurs with procedures with fans and aerosols.
The big mistake that was made in Europe is that the population did not use the mask at a general level to contain the spread of COVID-19, as stated by Professor Kim Woo-joo of the Guro University Hospital of Korea.
For its part, the Madrid medical group indicates that masks are the ideal to deal with this type of virus for the following reasons:
- They have the size and scope indicated for the prevention of contagion by COVID-19.
- These prevent the virus carrier (conscious or unconscious of their infected condition) from expelling enough microdroplets to infect others.
- These nasal or mouth fluids are prevented from contaminating objects or surfaces around them.
- They protect from being infected by splashing droplets of virus-carrying fluids.
With all this detailed explanation about why the mask is recommended by experts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we can tell you about the advantages of its use in different situations and people:
Daily use in case of risk of contagion
At this point, we are all at risk of contagion due to the spread that the virus has already had, due to the problem of asymptomatic cases and the risk situation that people who do not follow biosafety protocols expose us to.
In fact, experts in infectious diseases and viruses, such as Professor Kim Woo-joo of the Guro University Hospital of the University of Korea, mention that one of the big mistakes made in Europe and the US was not wearing the mask within the protective equipment at the level of the entire population. This was stated by the expert in a interview.
In the same way, the expert highlights that the daily and continuous use of the mask was key to flatten the curve and make Korea and other Asian countries the ones with the lowest infection rate to date.
The expert also emphasizes that it is not necessary to use N95 type masks or with a respirator, as they are for medical use in the aforementioned cases of risk of micro-droplets suspended in the air by aerosols, vapors or gases used in certain procedures.
By protocol in industries and companies
As you may know, among the main conditions for companies and industries, both essential and non-essential activities, could resume their operation, is the monitoring of the prevention of contagion protocols, among which the use of the mask prevails.
In these, a culture of prevention is essential with the responsible and appropriate use of masks and other basic measures such as:
- Wash your hands for 20 to 30 seconds and every 2 hours, making sure to wash well between the fingers and up to the wrist.
- Otherwise, you could use antibacterial gel for hand disinfection.
- Keep distance of 1 to 2 meters between person to person.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow (with the mask on).
- Avoid touching your face.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects with antiseptic alcohol from time to time.
In addition, according to the type of industry or company, more specific measures are established.
As protection for medical personnel
Among the sectors that may have particular and stricter measures due to the level of risk, we find those of the health sector. In this case, of course the mask is indicated, except in the cases that we have already mentioned.
Since before this pandemic, the mask has been the ideal one for the protection of medical personnel in all fields. From physiotherapy to hospital care, the staff have had this basic element within their healthcare team.
Precisely, in this type of contagion of COVID-19 it is the most indicated. Now, its use is required at all times, even on the way from the workplace to the home, this type of mask is recommended for the protection of healthcare personnel and those around them.
This is ratified by the Cochrane, the international non-profit organization that brings together a group of researchers in the health sciences. According to his advanced study, which takes into account the concept of the WHO, (World Health Organization) and the ECDC (European Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the following conclusion is reached:
Health workers or health personnel should use a mask in normal health care procedures. Only for those procedures that involve the generation of aerosols, the N95 or FFP2 mask is recommended (FFP3 the ECDC).
In the following table, the WHO clarifies us in which situations medical personnel should use the mask (called a medical mask in the table) and in which cases, the PPE type (FFP2, N95, FFP3):
In this case, as you will see, those indicated for medical personnel are type II and IIIR, due to their efficiency and, in the case of IIR, because they repel possible drops or fluids that may splash on this part of the face. These types of masks share the following special characteristics:
- Three layers of nonwoven fabric.
- The middle layer functions as a bacterial filter and is the one that defines the BFE index of each one, which must be 85% or more.
- It must have a differential pressure less than 60 pascal / cm2.
- In the case of IIR, it must have a splash resistance greater than or equal to 16 kPa.
- Its microbial cleaning index must be less than or equal to 30 cfu / g.
- Your BFE must be greater than or equal to 98%
To ensure that the mask you buy is surgical and type II or IIR (more protection), just enough revise what is indicated on the packaging which is certified by the UNE ‐ EN 14683: 2019 + AC: 2019 standard.
On the other hand, as in all types of population, medical personnel should wear eye protectors, because through the membranes of the conjunctiva the virus also manages to invade the body and infect it. Among the elements for this purpose are goggles and masks, as explained by WHO.
And it is that the protection of the life of medical personnel, in all areas is essential and this has been stressed to us by this emergency situation. It depends on the well-being of medical and health personnel that more lives can be saved, that more critical care units are released, that hospital facilities are free from sources of infection and that we can combat contagion.
Do not forget that their families, who have had to be patients during these months of the pandemic, have had to redouble their care to minimize the risk involved in having a relative practicing in the health sector.
In case of illness
For patients with respiratory or viral diseases that can be spread through the nasal mucosa, conjunctiva or mouth, as well as for the medical personnel who treat them, the use of masks is recommended.
In this case, it is part of the fundamental use that these have always had since their development and before the current pandemic.
We remind you that the main function of masks is to create a barrier from inside to outside. That is, containing the microdroplets expelled by their infected carrier.
The reason why they should also be used by health personnel in the care of these patients is because they have a high probability of being infected, so their use is preventive and a responsibility towards others.
A mask for different needs
It is clear that the mask is the ideal one to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from continuing in an uncontrolled way and that, depending on its type, it can be even more effective.
We have that the type I are not suitable for the use of health personnel and that the type IIR are the ones that provide greater protection and have the particular antifluidic characteristic.
In any case, the ideal is that you have the maximum protection of this type of mask, widely approved and recommended by experts in our country and the rest of the world.
Fortunately, today we have a good supply of masks and we have exceptional options, originated by the ingenuity and social commitment of local companies such as Béjar.
Our company has been embedded in the culture and textile industry of the country for more than 25 years and has managed to transform itself, to meet the demand for adequate masks, for the protection of families, companies, organizations and medical groups.
Today we produce masks that exceed the standards required by European regulations and we make our product available to the entire population and essential or non-essential companies, because we believe that we all deserve and need the best protection.
These characteristics above the average that you get with our Béjar masks are:
- Bacterial Filtration Efficiency of more than 99.7%. Standard masks only ensure 98%.
- They are antifluidic. This makes them a type IIR with a higher BFE.
- 53 gram TNT filter. Most masks have a 20 gram bottom filter.
- Triple layer of non-woven fabrics, as recommended by WHO.
- Anatomical design with plastic coated wire for effective shaping and support on the nose.
- Standard size for all ages, which adjusts to different facial structures, with strategically placed pleats and cotton and lycra elastic bands.
In which cases should the mask not be used?
Keep in mind that the exceptions also apply to the use of the mask. In this case, there are some situations in which its use is discouraged:
- In case of shortness of breath or dizziness after use.
- In environments where the air is already considered unsuitable due to the presence of gases, smoke, vapors or suspended substances and considered toxic.
- In cases of intolerance or irritation by materials.
- In people who already have difficulty breathing.
- In spaces that lack ventilation or enough oxygen to breathe.
In these cases of intolerance or incompatibility with the mask, you should consult your doctor about the most suitable alternative mask to protect yourself.
On the other hand, you should not use masks that do not indicate on their packaging the certification of the UNE ‐ EN 14683: 2019 + AC: 2019 standard and that present the following situations:
- When they are checked against the light, they show holes or tears.
- That do not have the moldable wire for the anatomical fit in the part of the nose and leave spaces between the skin of the face and the fabric.
- That they are damp, dirty or altered.
- That you have already used for more than 8 hours.
- Not made of non-woven materials.
- That they are expired (these have an expiration date).
In the same way, keep these recommendations in mind to use them:
- It is essential that the mask be changed every 6 to 8 hours of use, both because of the risk of contamination and because of the fatigue that these can generate.
- When removing them to eat or drink, you should use a new one and dispose of the old one properly.
- These should not be altered or modified to ensure their effectiveness.
- Single-use masks should not be reused.
- Remember that the masks are for personal use and cannot be shared.
- Avoid touching the mask to reposition it due to the risk of contamination of it and your hands.
Finally, do not forget the recommendations for placing the mask, which is also essential to ensure its effectiveness.
The mask is one of those recommended by health specialists in Spain and the world, due to its high effectiveness in containing the spread of COVID-19. With this, it is possible to face the challenge of avoiding contagion by infected people who are asymptomatic who could be spreading the virus unconsciously (between 6 and 41%) and the entire population is protected by the effectiveness of its filter by blocking the passage of the virus carrier microdroplets.
In this way, the mask in its different types (I, II, IIR) becomes the one indicated for the common population, carriers of the virus and for the most exposed groups, such as health personnel.
Exceptional cases in which the mask is not recommended are due to irritability, lack of air, poorly oxygenated spaces and medical personnel who require special protection with EPI-type masks.
On the other hand, it is important to make sure that the mask meets the quality conditions, that you complement its use with the other biosafety measures and that you adopt the recommendations for donning and removing them to achieve maximum effectiveness.