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What's the Best Medical Personal Protective Equipment For COVID-19?

October 1, 2020

The cause of the Covid-19 pandemic disease is the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The new coronavirus, like all respiratory viruses, is transmitted by droplets in close contact with an infected person (e.g. in the household, at work, or in healthcare facilities). This includes aerosols from the mouth and nose produced by the infected person's speech, coughing, and sneezing. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is excreted by airborne droplets and stool. Since all routes of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus have not been fully elucidated, the emphasis is on prevention. That's where medical personal protective equipment comes in handy.

Mandatory Protective Medical Equipment 

All health facility personnel, regardless of risk level, must wear medical personal protective equipment, medical face masks, face shields, and disposable gloves. It is not always possible to identify patients with a filovirus infection because the first symptoms are not specific. For this reason, it is important that health workers apply and systematically follow standard precautions in providing care to patients, regardless of their diagnosis. Their rigorous application is crucial to control the outbreak situations epidemic.

When and how to use a medical face mask?

Wearing a protective mask can help reduce the spread of some respiratory diseases. However, wearing a mask alone will not guarantee to stop the spread of the disease and should be used in addition to other preventive measures, which include hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene, and avoiding close contact. Masks are only 1 part of medical personal protective equipment - you are not 100% safe with just a mask. The World Health Organization advocates the rational use of masks in cases where someone has respiratory symptoms or there is a suspicion that they have contracted a new coronavirus.

However, recent research suggests that wearing masks that cover the nose and mouth can significantly help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Health authorities recommend wearing masks in all public indoor areas, but also outdoors, if you can keep a distance of at least one and a half meters from other people and use the protective mask as follows:

- Before applying the mask, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol disinfectant.

- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask and make sure that the edges of the mask adhere well to your face.

- Avoid touching the mask while using it.

- Replace the dampened mask with a new one.

- Never use the same mask more than once.

- Remove the mask from the back (do not touch the front) and throw it in a closed waste bin.

- After that, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol disinfectant.

Protective medical face shield

Medical personal protective equipment such as face shields are increasingly being used as part of pandemic protection, as shown by numerous studies that indicate that people have been intensively searching online for this protective device in the last six months.

Firstly, it is important to emphasize that the virus is primarily transmitted by droplets, when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks. Transmission is most often performed in close contact, and less frequently over contaminated surfaces.

According to studies, protective medical face shields currently reduce virus exposure by 92 percent, to about two meters from a person who coughs.

Face shield has an obvious advantage over the mask, it covers the eyes, in addition to covering the mouth and nose, thus protecting another mucous membrane through which the virus could enter the body.

This type of protection also facilitates non-verbal communication, but also enables reading from the lips, which is especially important for people with impaired hearing. Also, maintaining medical face shields hygiene is easier than cleaning masks, some of which can only be used once.

They are easy to clean with soap and water or disinfectant and can be used multiple times.

Wearing medical face shields can be more comfortable for people who wear prescription glasses and for those who say that the mask makes them feel uncomfortable. The correct use of the face shield is easier than the correct use of the mask, which, if not used properly, does not protect us or others.

Medical nitrile gloves

To protect against coronavirus, medical professionals should always wear disposable nitrile gloves. Gloves should fit snugly around hands. Wearing time depends on the material: disposable nitrile ones need to be changed at least every two hours.

When using nitrile gloves, a person should wipe their hands with an antiseptic, and after removing them it should immediately discard them. Gloves made from other materials, such as leather or latex, will not have a protective effect against the virus. Leather or latex gloves are not suitable for use as protection against microorganisms, as the material from which they are made will not withstand the disinfectant treatment.

Gloves are worn by healthcare providers in high-risk situations and for two reasons:

- To protect against blood and other biological fluids, and so that toxic drugs do not end up on the skin.

- In order not to transfer dangerous viruses and bacteria to clean surfaces and other patients. For this, gloves are worn along with all other medical personal protective equipment. Their requirements for the use of gloves are very strict. For example, at least one pair goes to one patient, that is, gloves are changed quite often.

Moreover, it is not recommended to touch door handles, switches and other objects while wearing gloves. Otherwise, they become the transmitters of dangerous viruses and bacteria, same like dirty hands.

In any case, gloves as one of the primar medical personal protective equipment, do not fully protect health workers and their hands must be washed frequently and correctly. If the gloves are used incorrectly (which is more likely to happen if a person does not approach the issue very consciously), they will not bring any benefit, and a person will be able to spread viruses and bacteria on surfaces as actively as without them.

*This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Please follow the advice of your local health authorities when making decisions about your own health and the people around you.
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