Coronavirus – Facemasks During a Pandemic?

It
might be quite a logical reaction for many, amid a pandemic, to reach for face
masks as protection from a virus. In the case of the novel coronavirus, the
general public seems to be extremely reliant of wearing whatever facemasks they
can get their hands on, but could this be doing more damage than good?

The truth is, using personal protective equipment (PPE), commonly used within the healthcare industry, should be done so only within highly specialised, controlled environments, or it could make your risks of getting infected become significantly higher. All that being said, the general public still should not be using any type of facemask that is intended for frontline medical staff during this pandemic. Frontline staff should be using a certain grade of PPE equipment (referred to as FFP3 facemasks) that shouldn’t be used by the general public. Medical staff must have the correct type of equipment, and this is not always possible when the general public buy-out these supplies. This isn’t just an issue facing the UK. Many countries across the world, like the US, are seeing significantly reduced supplies – partly due to the increased demand and partly due to the general public taking supplies for themselves.

It is advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that those who are otherwise healthy and showing no symptoms of the COVID-19 disease (i.e. coughing, sneezing, high fever) should not be wearing masks. The only exception to this would be if you are taking care of someone with the disease – only then should you be wearing a mask.

 

WHO’s advice on safe usage?

It
might be all well and good using facemasks, but these are only effective when
used in combination with the correct personal hygiene, like washing hands
correctly or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. As it is specifically
stated on the WHO website, ‘if you wear a mask then you must know how to use it
and dispose of it properly’. The following advice comes straight from WHO for
guidance on how to use facemasks:

 

  • Before putting on the mask – ensure hands are thoroughly clean with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • the mask should cover the mouth and nose, leaving no gaps between the face and the mask
  • do not touch the mask once it is on and clean your hands again if you do;
  • replace mask regularly and do not re-use single-use facemasks;
  • do not touch the mask from the front end when you remove it;
  • and always clean hands (with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser) once it is removed.

 

Sorting through our facemask supplies at HQ!

 

What’re we doing during the pandemic?

As always, Synergy is committed to helping in whichever way we can. We are currently very busy trying to find innovative ways to help patients during recent practice closures, but we are also trying to help those most in need during this time – COVID-19 patients and hospitals. We have a supply of hundreds of FFP2 masks that could help a portion of the general public who are currently suffering coronavirus symptoms or have been officially diagnosed with the disease. These types of masks are incredibly effective at stopping tiny particles from leaving our mouths and contaminating surfaces around us.

While we understand these aren’t sufficient for frontline hospital staff, we have also committed to source as many FFP3-grade masks as possible to donate to hospitals in the UK during the pandemic. Our delivery for these is scheduled in the coming days and will be distributing these to the local NHS hospitals where they are needed most. We hope that doing this little bit could have a big impact and support the NHS while it is under a lot of pressure.

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