In the current efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, there are 2 types of masks that can be recommended.
MEDICAL FACE MASKS
The transmission of infective agents during surgical procedures in operating theatres and in other medical settings can occur in several ways.
The main intended use of medical face masks is :
- to protect the patient from infective agents and,
- additionally, in certain circumstances to protect the wearer against splashes of potentially contaminated liquids or aerosols
Medical face masks may also be intended to be worn by patients and other persons to reduce the risk of spread of infections, particularly in epidemic or pandemic situations.
Indeed, a medical face mask with an appropriate microbial barrier can also be effective in reducing the emission of infective agents from the nose and mouth of an asymptomatic carrier or a patient with clinical symptoms.
(The medical face masks fall under the Medical Device Regulation – under the European standard EN 14683 type II or, with additional splash protection type IIR . The European Standard EN 14683 specifies requirements and test methods for medical face masks to limit the emission and transmission of infective agents.)
PPE MASKS (Personal Protective Equipment Mask)
Their main purpose is protection of the wearer. These PPE masks
- filter the inhaled air protecting the wearer and some types also filter the exhaled air (protection towards the outside)
- have levels recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization):
- The FFP2 filters over 92% of the suspended particles
- The FFP3 arrive at values equal to or greater than 98%;
- must fit tightly to the face and be worn correctly
- must be worn mainly by healthcare personnel as indicated by WHO
(Respiratory protective masks fall under Personal Protective Regulation. European standard EN 149 specifies performance requirements and test methods for FFP2 masks, or alternatively FFP3 (American similar standard protection levels are N95 / N99)