Ask The Experts: What protection can I expect from wearing a face mask?

It’s been a topic of debate for weeks in Parliament and beyond as the United Kingdom seeks clarity on when and where to wear a face mask to protect themselves from catching coronavirus.

Following Government guidelines, the minimum amount of Personal Protective Equipment to be worn for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) is a protective mask, disposable gloves and an apron. Our Operations Manager is a Chartered Engineer and has experience of infection control and the science behind cleaning. We asked her to shed some light on what protection staff and society could expect from wearing a face mask.

 

 

Will a face mask stop me from catching coronavirus?

Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick as viruses can transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles which can penetrate masks. Where masks are useful is capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus.

 

When should I wear a face mask?

If you are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others.

 

Why should I wear a face mask?
Masks are crucial for health and social care workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and carer should have a mask. N95 respirators and surgical masks (face masks) are examples of personal protective equipment that are used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face. Surgical masks are made in different thicknesses and are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other key workers – like cleaners.

 

In a new document published on 11th May 2020, which outlines the government’s plan for bringing the country out of lockdown, it is recommended that face coverings should now be worn in enclosed spaces. Again, let me stress, doing so cuts the chance of coronavirus being passed on. It is not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick as viruses can transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles which can penetrate masks or other face coverings.

 

How do you wear a face mask safely?
A cloth face covering or mask should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably. This can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head. Before putting it on, wash your hands or use hand sanitiser and do the same after removing it.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth at all times and store any used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. Do not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose.

Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched and wash the covering regularly. The covering can be washed with other laundry, using your normal washing powder.

To be clear, reusable face masks are not medical devices or personal protective equipment (PPE). Here at APM Cleaning, Our go-to FSP2 reusable masks have been unavailable due to demand so we’ve gone a level up and invested in FSP3 moulded face masks at a cost of £70 per mask to keep our staff safe and they have also been issued all with goggles. This is an example of essential PPE needed for key workers.

 

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