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Royal Academy of Medicine recommends use of cloth masks

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Royal Academy of Medicine is recommending the use of cloth masks by the population during the new Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic and during deconfinement, the Academy said on Saturday.

While such masks keep out 70% of viral particles, the Academy noted that they will be less effective if their use is not accompanied by frequent hand-washing and social distancing.

“We need to see that as a tool for the collective fight against Covid-19, and not as a tool for individual protection,” the Academy’s Permanent Secretary, Professor Jean-Michel Foidart, stressed. “The aim is to curb the spread of droplets in social spaces and thus limit the possibility of transmission of the virus.”

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Surgical masks provide almost maximum protection, filtering out 89% of viral particles, but they are in short supply, so more cloth masks need to be made, according to members of the academy.

“A cloth mask must not be worn for more than six hours,” Pr. Foidart said. “It must be placed correctly to avoid leakage and cover the nose, mouth and chin. The mask must be removed by the elastic, without touching the front of it. The user must wash his or her hands immediately after taking it off. Care must also be taken to wash the mask frequently, ideally once a day, at 80 degrees.”

The recommendation is valid for the current period, and in particular, when there is a shortage of FFP2 and FFP3 surgical masks, which need to be reserved, as a priority, for medical personnel working in homes, hospitals and nursing homes.

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times