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A study by the NHS Foundation Trust of Cambridge University Hospitals found that tighter-wearing FFP3 masks offer better protection for healthcare workers than liquid-resistant PPE (personal protective equipment) masks or their textile analogues, which are more common in society and generally not classified as PPE. At Adenbruck Hospital in Cambridge, coronavirus infections fell to 100% after improving face masks for NHS staff working in its covid-19 wards.
Dr Chris Illingworth of the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics Department said: “Prior to the improvement of face masks, most infections among healthcare workers in Covid-19 wards were probably directly related to patients with Covid-19. After the introduction of FFP3 respirators in the Covid-19 wards, the number of exposure-related cases dropped dramatically – in fact, our model suggests that FFP3 respirators may have reduced ward-based infection to zero. ”
NHS staff and representative bodies such as the Royal College of Nurses and the British Medical Association have called on the UK Government to provide all NHS staff with a higher level of protection.
Studies have been published online, the findings have not yet been compared – scientists add that further research into the results of the study will be needed before they can be fully validated.
What are FFP3 masks?
Filtering Face Piece 3 (FFP3) masks are respirator masks that usually have a filter or valve to help users breathe through a slightly thicker, firmer fabric and protect them from airborne particles. This means that although FFP3 masks work like any other type of face mask, they are often considered more reliable to protect users against the air virus and prevent it from spreading to others.
What are the best Covid masks?
The findings of the study suggest that FFP3 masks are expected to provide greater protection to healthcare workers by reducing the level of direct infection of airborne covid-19 particles. Because FFP3 respirators are attached more rigidly and securely to the face, they are also believed to offer greater protection because they fit better on the face and are less likely to fall off, as has been found with other masks, such as liquid-resistant surgical masks.
Previously the most used face masks
Liquid-resistant surgical masks. They were the most widely available and relied on last year as health workers relied most on these masks due to the massive lack of PPE. When protecting users from drops and liquids, they can also have gaps and leaks through which they can often expose the wearer to airborne particles.
Meanwhile, fabric face masks do not fully protect the wearer, but can help protect others from infection and be useful in safe remote stays, but they are not classified as official PPE that can be worn by healthcare professionals.
Vaccination remains an absolute priority for those who have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity to protect themselves and society.