The three key measures to stay protected from the Covid-19 are frequent hand washing, social estrangement and the use of masks. Now that many Chileans are returning to face-to-face work, it is more important than ever to know that not all types of mask should be used in the same way, and that they all have different useful lives.
The doctor of The Counts Clinic, Jorge Jorquera, told hoyxhoy that another important point is to be clear that “once one puts on a mask should not touch it, move it or remove it until the time comes for withdrawal, when it must also be considered that it should be taken from the elastics or threads that help to hold it, never touching the mask itself”. He added that “the worst mask is always the one that is misused”, independent of the material.
Many types of masks are currently sold, such as reusable fabric masks that have only one or two layers of gender. The effectiveness of these, as well as those of eva rubber that have begun to be marketed, are not endorsed by serious studies as effective personal protection elements against Covid-19 contagion. It is always better to opt for those who recommend professionals.
According to Jorquera, simply use one of these masks to be protected from the virus during a working day, as long as they are used correctly. What you have to do is use one from the house out in the morning and don’t take it off until lunchtime. At recess, you have to wash your hands, take it off, store it in a paper bag or other absorbent material (never plastic). Then wash your hands, eat, wash your hands again, put it back on and not take it off until you get home. These masks can last up to 21 days and should not be washed, but should always be stored in different bags. However, they must be replaced early if they look dirty, because if they get dirty it is because “something happened” and this can mean an abrasive effect that has diminished their effectiveness.
This type of facial protection must be given the same treatment as surgical: to allocate one for transfers, one for the first part of the day and one for after the midday break, taking them off and always putting them with clean hands. The difference is that these should not be discarded, but kept in bags and washed with hot water (about 60oC) and soap upon arrival at home. They may last about two weeks or until the fabric starts to deteriorate. The ones that are truly effective are the ones that have three layers of fabric, hopefully with many threads. “Like the ones on the sheets, they have about 200 threads,” Jorquera said. This, because they have fewer spaces through which the virus can enter.
These are very effective and have a long duration, so one is also enough to protect themselves during a full day of work. “Horn” masks have filters that last 21 days and can be changed, so their lifespan is much longer. “If you give them one of these at work you can use it just when you’re in the place and leave it right there in a named plastic box and the date it started to be used,” Jorquera said. This, to be clear when it is time to change the filter. If one is left at work you have to use another for transfers, of course. It can be of any of the aforementioned types, seeking an absolutely responsible use.
Three different ones should be used on a workday. The doctor’s indication is to use one to move from home to work and then store it in a paper bag. Of course, with clean hands. So, ideally put on a new one and use it until lunchtime, then wash your hands and throw it away in a place where no one is going to take it out and misuse it. After eating, put on a new one until the end of the working day and discard it (always with a hand wash before and after handling). To go home you can use the same one that was used for the morning transfer, but it has to be thrown at home once.
Like the self-filtering mask, an N95 mask serves the entire working day and if taken care of accordingly, such as the filter, can last 21 days or even up to a month, Jorquera counted. It should also be discarded if it looks dirty before 21 days, for the same reason as the self-filterer. This type of mask is one of the most recommended by doctors, since it is the one they use to care for patients with positive covid.
Facial shield as a complement
The bronchopulmonar noted that this personal protective element serves only as a complement for those who wear a mask. Under no circumstances does it replace the mask. However, Jorquera said its use was not entirely necessary. They have different useful lives and must also be manipulated with clean hands.