These masks do not protect against the virus. They can possibly limit splashes, but also be a source of contamination.
Question asked on 03/19/2020
You are asking us about the effectiveness of handcrafted fabric masks. Several tutorials are indeed disseminated on social networks in order to encourage everyone to make, so do it yourself, his own mask, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, the blogger, stylist and influencer Lisa Gachet, who is behind one of these online tutorials, makes it clear in her video that this is not “No medical device”.
These different initiatives are all based on a document published by the Grenoble University Hospital on March 13. He is a boss for caregivers “Not taking Covid-19 patients”. After checking with the hospital, it appears that this guide is not a forgery and that it was actually distributed internally in the establishment.
The Grenoble University Hospital has provided the boss with a protective mask.
You can do it, and offer it to medical staff near your place of residence.
– Marisa Garnier #EnConfinement (@MarisaGarnier) March 16, 2020
However, do these masks serve as any protection in this context of pandemic and shortage of masks? First element of response: a spokesperson for the CHU, contacted by CheckNews, recognizes that this is a “Additional option presented at an internal meeting for those who are not in direct contact with patients. We are studying all the solutions in case of shortage. But this is a solution that is not applied because we are not in shortage of surgical masks or FFP2 in Grenoble. So we never asked our people to wear it or make it. This is an alternative, a track in progress “.
Concerning the nursing staff, very exposed and having to protect themselves from patients potentially carrying the Covid-19, it is therefore out of the question to be satisfied with homemade cloth masks. What also confirms to CheckNews Anne Goffard, virologist at the Lille University Hospital: “It’s a bad idea. They don’t protect anything. The fabric does not protect. ”
Otherwise, a study conducted in 2015 on a cohort of caregivers concluded that the risk of infection was higher with cloth masks: “Mold retention, reuse of masks and poor filtration could increase the risk of infection“ do we say so.
The French Society of Hospital Hygiene (SF2H), on his site, also recommends to healthcare professionals “Not to use other types of screens in place of surgical masks (eg fabric masks, paper masks, cloths tied behind the head), due to very rare scientific data concerning their effectiveness (waterproofing)” .
As for the users who wish to make and wear these masks when they go out shopping, for example, the answer is more nuanced. For Gilles Pialoux, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Tenon hospital (Paris), the idea is not to be completely rejected: “In the absence of a mask, it can reduce projections and therefore protect others.” However, he warns of the risks of contamination linked to touching his face to put on and take off the mask, as well as the uniqueness of this type of device: “If people use it for lack of anything better, it is for single use: they are to be thrown away after use and not to be put back in their pocket which is then contaminated. And you have to wash your hands after you take it off. “
Yesterday evening, during his daily update, the Director General of Health, Jerôme Salomon, expressed reservations about these “homemade masks”, and overall about the wearing of any type of mask by non-sick individuals: “Some of you make cloth masks. These are personal initiatives. It is important to emphasize that handling masks, whether they are made of tissue or protective, increases the risk of carrying the virus from surface to surface. A mask is a technique, it is reserved for caregivers. We remove our mask, we manipulate our mask, we contaminate ourselves by touching our mask. There is no indication to keep your mask when you are not a caregiver. “
The behaviors recommended by health authorities remain very frequent hand washing, respect for social distancing, as well as strict confinement to minimize the number of contacts per day.
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