The increased production of face masks to serve the global demand seems to not be enough in these times. The pandemic has made the use of masks a necessity, especially for health workers that run the risk of being infected.
The limited supply of a seemingly insatiable demand for face masks and other protective gear has opened up a conversation on the re-usability of face masks.
The idea of reusing face masks is to manage availability and protect as many people as possible. Reusing face masks would seem like the best way to go until the problems that will arise from reusing most health officials evaluated face masks.
Not surprisingly, most health officials kicked against the reuse of masks, and they have their reasons which make their case strong.
Medical or surgical masks are designed to be used only once. Any attempt to wash or clean it will definitely leave it damp or moist, which destroys it. Health officials do not like the idea of reusing a face mask since it cannot be clean in case their organisms on the surface.
The concern is valid because most people if allowed to reuse a surgical mask, will attempt to clean it, and when they do this, they will damage the mask itself, and it will be pointless using it.
A case where it is not cleaned before reuse, then the risk of contracting already settled micro-organisms on the surface becomes high, thereby making a point of its use meaningless.
The argument of the health workers is that there is no winning in the situation. Reusing the medical or surgical mask, in their opinion, does not serve any health purpose.
Some face masks, especially the once made of fabric, can be cleaned and reused, but it is advised that it is cleaned with a washing machine. This would be good news until you realize that a lot of people do not own washing machines.
The implication of this is that the idea of cleaning the face mask using any other method will likely cause the spread of the virus from the surface to surface, or it will hardly get rid of the micro-organisms on the surface of the fabric face mask. The reason why health workers do not recommend washing the masks is because of the danger of doing so and not everybody is careful to handle it in the wash. There it becomes a focus of infection. Given this, it is better to discard it.
Also, when removing it from the face such as a KN95 face mask, do not touch the fabric, but the ends that hold the mask and immediately discard it in a place where no one comes into contact with it.
These hard times, most countries and individuals are taking the risk of reusing the face mask as it is the only option that seems viable compared to having none at all. The health officials can have their say, but it is apparent that the realities are different.
The solution they proffer is to purchase new face masks instead of reusing the old face mask. Also if possible, it’s better to stay indoors to avoid any contact with people that are infected and wash hands regularly to prevent contracting the virus from surfaces.
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