The Coronavirus outbreak has now spread to more than 200 countries around the world. As the virus grows, investors and companies are battling against time to manufacture and supply personal protective equipment to health and key workers to help flatten the curve.
During the early stage of the outbreak, it was uncertain what personal protective equipment would deliver enough protection to healthcare professionals when tending to patients with the virus. Scientific research has shown that N95 respirators are safer compared to medical masks in preventing respiratory virus infection.
During this pandemic, several mobile health, e-health, and diagnostics companies have started up, offering technology-driven solutions to help protect doctors, nurses, and the public from the virus. This response is highly encouraging that a vaccine will be found. Until then, personal protective equipment is required in certain situations. Within each sector, different personal protective equipment is needed more than others. Read our tips on what protection to use.
Respirators are used to avoid breathing in small airborne particles that develop from aerosol-generating procedures and filter out at least 99% of airborne particles. All respirations should be well fitted to the face, covering both the nose and the mouth.
When wearing a respirator, do not allow the mask to dangle around the neck after or between each use. Once you have put your respirator on refrain from touching it, and if you do wash your hands immediately after to prevent contamination. When finished with your respirator, remove it outside of the patient room or COVID-19 area.
According to the FDA, fluid-resistant surgical masks should be worn to provide a barrier of protection against respiratory droplets reaching the mouth and nose.
These surgical masks are for single use only and must be discarded after use, and then replaced with a new one. Surgical masks should also cover both the nose and the mouth and should not be allowed to hang around the neck. Once you have secured your surgical mask, it should not be touched and should be disposed of when they become damp or damaged. Once disposed of, efficient hand hygiene must be performed.
As these masks are disposable and one use only, you will need to get yourself some bulk packs as you may run out quickly and be tempted to use an old one. Brooklyn Equipment is a popular place to visit as you can find packs of 50+ there for just $34.
Another form of personal protective equipment is face shields. A face shield will provide the wearer with eye and face protection so as to avoid contamination from respiratory droplets, blood, and bodily fluids. Disposable eye and face protection are advised for single use only and should then be disposed of as clinical waste. Re-usable eye and face protection are acceptable if the equipment is decontaminated between each use. Much like respirators and surgical masks, a face shield must maintain its fit, and be discarded of if damaged.
Aprons and Gowns
The majority of aprons and gowns are disposable; these must be worn to protect your uniform or clothes from contamination when providing patients with immediate care and during the sanitization of personal protective equipment such as face shields. Fluid resistant coveralls or long-sleeved gowns must be worn if a one-use apron does not provide your uniform or clothing with enough coverage.
Once you have finished with your apron or after contact with a patient, it must be disposed of immediately. Hand hygiene should be practiced after disposing of all personal protective equipment.
According to the CDC, the need to wear disposable gloves is only be when cleaning, disinfecting, or providing care to someone who is sick. It is important to wash your hands both before and after wearing gloves to ensure good hand hygiene.
Wearing gloves outside of these examples will not necessarily protect you from getting COVID-19 and may lead to the spread of bacteria. The safest way to protect yourself when shopping or running errands is to wear a face-covering and wash your hands regularly.
The majority of this personal protective equipment would only be necessary to wear in the health sector, such as by doctors, nurses, or dentists. However, following the government guidelines, it is mandatory to wear face-coverings in shops and supermarkets, and keeping on top of hand hygiene is a must. You should also continue to practice everyday preventive actions such as social distancing and wearing a face-covering when in busy places.