In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the FDA has outlined some recommendations in regards to PPE, personal protective equipment. Outlining its effectiveness, who should use it and how it should be used.
Firstly in terms of masks, the FDA discourages the public wear of N95 respirators as a way of preventing the spread of the virus. They believe that these masks should be exclusively reserved for medical workers as presently recommended by the CDC. As an alternative choice for the public, they recommend surgical masks instead.
Not to be compared to face masks as they are not always synonymous. Surgical masks are made in different thicknesses to protect you from contact with liquids. These masks also facilitate your breathing when worn and helps block “large particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter” containing bacteria from entering your nose or your mouth. They must only be worn once before being safely disposed in a plastic bag.
Secondly, when it comes to hand protection, protective gloves are recommended as they provide a barrier between contaminated surfaces/ ill patients and the individual wearing them. In the health care field, non-sterile disposable examination gloves are appropriate when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Lastly, when it comes to gowns, they are meant to provide protection from the transfer of microorganisms and/or other contaminants in the environment. Gowns can be used for both medical and non-medical purposes. The ones who offer lower level barrier protection are known as non-surgical isolation gowns whilst the ones offering higher level barrier protection, are known as surgical gowns or surgical isolation gowns.The use of reusable gowns is encouraged opposed to that of disposable single use gowns. In conclusion, PPE is effective in containing the spread of the virus when used properly. However, handling these equipment incorrectly can put you or others at risk.
PPE cannot be washed as it deteriorates its protective capabilities and may no longer be effective in providing a barrier between individuals utilizing it. Additionally, PPE needs to be properly removed and disposed in order to prevent potentially contaminated objects to expose the wearer or other individuals to it.