The Centre has written to all states and union territories warning against the use of N-95 masks with valved respirators by people, saying these do not prevent the virus from spreading out and are “detrimental” to the measures adopted for its containment.
The use of valved respirator N95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing spread of coronavirus as it doesn’t prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask,” the Director-General, Dr Rajiv Garg, wrote in a letter to states and union territories
The Director General of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, in a letter to the Principal Secretaries of health and medical education of states, said it has been observed that there is “inappropriate use” of N-95 masks, particularly those with valved respirator, by the public other than designated health workers.
N95 can protect you but there is a risk!
The DGHS referred to the advisory on the use of homemade protective cover for face and mouth available on the website of the Ministry of Health. He further said that states and union territories should encourage the use of homemade cloth masks, which can be made by following guidelines issued by the Health Ministry.
When used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, valved masks would protect the user but could potentially end up harming others near them. Valved masks are typically used in industrial settings, where a user needs protection from the environment. While the masks filter in air that the user inhales, the valves help release exhaled air back into the environment.
The advisory stressed such face covers must be washed and cleaned each day, as instructed, and stated that any used cotton cloth can be used to make this face cover. It also listed the procedures of making such homemade masks, asking to ensure it fits the face well and there are no gaps on the sides.
It urges people to wash hands thoroughly before wearing the face cover, switching to another fresh one as the face cover becomes damp or humid, and never reusing it after single use without cleaning it.
The colour of the fabric does not matter but one must ensure that the fabric is washed well in boiling water for five minutes and dried well before making the face cover. Adding salt to this water is recommended, it said. Never share the face cover with anyone. Every member in a family should have separate face cover,” the advisory stated.