Do Medical Masks Really Protect You From Infections?
According to the first ever study examining the presence of respiratory viruses on the outer surface of used medical masks, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases, it was observed that, One in ten masks were positive for any virus which highlights the risk of self-contamination to the wearer, particularly on doffing. The maximum fluorescent contamination was seen on the upper sections of the masks, which is also the likely area to be touched on removal. In this study, the risk of mask contamination was associated with duration of masks use and number of patients seen.

The study shows that the prolonged use of medical masks (more than 6 hrs) and frequent clinical contact in healthcare setting increase the risk to health workers through contaminated Personal Protective Equipment also known as PPE. Protocols on duration of mask use should specify a maximum time of continuous use.

PPE can easily get contaminated during clinical care of sick patients which may result in an increased risk of infection in wearer. Many simulation studies have also shown presence of particles on the potential surface of it and associated risk of self-contamination during doffing of the protective equipment. Hence, Staff should be aware of the risk associated with the reuse and extended use of masks and respiratory protective devices and high clinical contact.

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