Why are face masks so important during this pandemic?

Wearing a face mask has become common and omnipresent in both hospitals and the community in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The general population, however, consumes masks, regardless of their specialty, for surgical or filtering facepieces (FFPs), resulting in a global scarcity of supply for the most exposed health workers. This stresses the necessity to explain the indications of the various categories of masks so that their usage can be rationalized. This article sets out the French viewpoint on the reasonable use for health care workers of respiratory protection devices.

The urgency of masks during this pandemic

The pandemic for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is based on the wear of Personal Protective Devices (PPE) for health workers (HCWs). Severe SSRS-CoV-2 routes involve the transmission process (contact with oral, nasal, and eye mucous membranes). Therefore, the discovery of SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients confirms the conviction that fomites play a part in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. However, it is still unknown how significant it is relative to direct exposures to respiratory infection.

Face masks have grown common and omnipresent both in hospitals and in the community. Overconsumption of surgical and filtering facet (FFP) covers, regardless of their specificity, is not necessarily needed by the public EN149 ffp2 face mask. As already observed in some nations, this could lead to a shortfall of supplies for HCW’s at the patient’s frontline[5]. We give the French rules for using anti-projection or surgical masks and FFP masks to rationalize the use of shows and to prevent their shortage.

-FFP1 filters <80% of the aerosols (total internal leakage <22%);

-FFP2 masks filtering a minimum of 94% aerosol (total internal leakage < 8%);

-FFP3 masks filtering a minimum of 99% of aerosols (total internal leakage <2%).

Respiratory protection apparatus (RPE) or type FFP masks (or N95 respiratory masks) for wearer protection are advised (Table I). They must have the following indications on covers and packaging: the number and year of the standard according to the type of ffp2 mask manufacturer (EN 149), the efficiencies class (EFP1, FFP2, or FFP3), and the marking of CE marking (CE symbol followed by the number of the notified body responsible for monitoring manufacture quality (EC 149).

How to use safety precautions during pandemic?

The wear time must comply with the usage recommendations [7]. In each case, it should be less than 8 hours a day and not be used with the removed FFP mask under the conditions of usage and kind of respiratory protective equipment.

FFP masks are naturally aged and therefore have an expiration date that cannot guarantee their efficacy. Legally speaking, after the expiry date, covers cannot be re-sold, made available, sold, or used, even without a fee. About a COVID-19 pandemic, however, in the period of shortage, the French Labor Ministry has altered the law to permit the use of FFP masks until two years from the manufacturing date.

Mask wearing indications as per the French standards

The mask-wear requirements for HCWs take that into account:

— Using an ant factory or operative mask limits the spread and protects the human and environment of possibly infectious particles. In addition, operational masks minimize caregivers’ exposure to possibly infectious patient droplets. Fluid-borne agents may be transmitted through splashes from patients to staff.


Carrying an FFP mask protects careers of tiny infectious agents against the airborne spread provided they are snug. This form of air protection usually is advisable for health personnel who care for infected patients such as measles, TB, and pandemic influenza. In the circumstances involving management, it may also be advised.

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