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Face Masks to Protect Against Covid-19 – What to Know about Protective Masks

Special situations require special measures. People in Switzerland are currently feeling this at first hand. The use of mouthmasks is always under discussion. Various masks are currently available on the market: mouthmasks type I, type II, KN95 masks and FFP2 masks. In addition, there is a lot of advice on how to make your own fabric mask. We would like to inform you about the different possibilities.

Type I and II mouth masks are class 1 medical devices and protect the wearer’s environment from infection via droplets. These can be transmitted, for example, by sneezing, coughing or a wet pronunciation. The difference between these two masks lies in the ability to filter bacteria. Type I masks provide 95% protection against bacteria, while Type II masks must provide  98% protection.  Thus, the Type II mask offers almost complete protection against infection. Mouthmasks that meet the European standard are EN14683 certified and undergo a demanding test series, such as a test to evaluate bacterial filter performance. Only masks that are tested and certified in this way correspond to a product which protects. However, Type I masks are mainly used in civil applications, while Type II masks are also used in hospitals. The Stöckli Medical mouth protection mask type II have a bacterial filtration efficiency of at least 99% and are therefore twice as effective.

FFP2 masks are particle-filtering respiratory protection masks and are used in areas where harmful particles are present in the air.  Those masks repel pollutants and must be worn closed on the face. For this reason, they are used by health workers and (high)-risk patients to protect against Covid-19. Due to the narrow load, there is a stronger breathing resistance, which can make inhalation more difficult. FFP2 masks are certified according to European standard EN 149. FFP2 masks must achieve a 94% performance compared to particles and aerosols.

KN95 masks are certified to Chinese standards and considered equivalent to FFP2 masks. Their filter performance is rated higher than that of FFP2 masks. Due to the scarcity of FFP2 masks in the European market, KN95 masks are increasingly offered. KN95 masks must have a standard filter performance against particles and aerosols of at least 95%.

FFP2 or KN95 masks are also available with a valve.  Since masks without valves filter both inhaled and exhaled air, they offer both self-protection and external protection. Masks with valve filter only the inhaled air and are not suitable for protecting the environment.  For this reason, they are not suitable for anti-virus protection and not recommended.

Fabric masks are currently made everywhere and can be designed according to your own taste. Such masks act as a mechanical and emotional barrier and do not achieve the protection that can be achieved with a certified mask. Of course, such a mask is better than wearing none at all, but it is not sufficient in case of prolonged contact and non-compliance with the minimum distance.

When should I wear which mask?

Fabric mask: The fabric mask acts as a mechanical and emotional barrier. Wearers of a fabric mask often automatically keep more distance from other people and prevent you from getting caught in the face. They can be used on the street and while shopping.

Mask Type I: This medical mask can be worn in public transport, in close contact with people and while shopping.

Mask Type II: The Type II mask can be applied according to the type I mask. However, because the mask has a higher filter efficiency, the protection against infection is much higher.

KN95/FFP2 Mask: These masks offer the mask wearer better protection against small particles and especially viruses compared to the masks of type I, II. Patients at risk are advised to wear such a mask.

How do I wear a hygiene or respiratory mask correctly?

Hygiene masks and also breathing masks are only useful if they are worn properly. Before tightening, it is important to wash or disinfect your hands thoroughly with soap. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that the mask is touched as little as possible. The masks have a so-called nose bar, which can be adapted to the shape of the nose. It is important that the mask sits nicely flush. The  ear loops are then placed over the ears and the mask is pulled under the chin. The mask sits correctly when the nose and mouth are completely covered and sit as flush as possible on the face. This is also the reason why hygiene masks type II only protect the environment, but not the wearer, as it is not possible to adjust them completely flush to the face.

In addition, we would like to point out once again that wearing masks only makes sense in combination with strict hand hygiene. Further recommendations for handling and wearing masks can be found on the BAG’s website.

How do I know that my mask is not a fake?

Time and again you hear in the media that large companies order millions of masks but are disappointed. The masks either never arrive or counterfeits are sent, which do not meet the usual quality standards. To prevent this, the Stöckli Medical Team has developed a 5-stage cascade model and 20 employees are actively involved in this process. In addition, Stöckli Medical is advised and supported in connection with protective material in quality management process by the Swiss medical consulting company QS Engineering (www.qs-engineering.ch/). Due to this highly regulated process and the involvement of medical device experts, we have a professional quality assurance system that ensures that our masks meet the standards and ensure proven protection.

You, too, can prevent such errors. Often the packaging is not sufficiently labelled. If you are considering buying protective masks, please ask for EN DIN 14683 test reports. It is often only then that it can be recognized which protection class the product belongs to. The CE certificate is not sufficient, as the CE is subject to self-declaration.

Stöckli Medical is committed to supporting hospitals, companies and private customers in Switzerland in the procurement of certified and high-quality protection products. Visit our webshop  webshop  and benefit from tested products with hospital quality.

 

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