Germany, Austria and France have already tightened the regulations on the applicable nose and mouth masks. In Spain, a minimum level of filtration of masks has been established to protect against COVID-19 infection. In Poland, the change of regulations is to take place this week.
The issue of changing the rules regarding the protection of the mouth and nose during the pandemic – and more specifically: the quality of the masks used – appeared in the public debate after on Friday, February 19, in the TVN24 program “One for One”, the prime minister’s chief adviser on COVID-19, prof. Andrzej Horban stated: “One should actually throw all these pseudo-protections into the trash, forget about them. It is a headache.”
Then he added that the minister of health is to issue an ordinance on the same day on the obligation to wear surgical masks. Admittedly, Adam Niedzielski denied this information on Friday in a statement for the Wirtualna Polska portal, but he explained: “We are wondering whether these masks should be specified, because we have indicated some substitutes in the form of, for example, scarves and we will have to give it up.”
Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski: So far, substitutes for masks have been allowed. We want to undo this so that there is no replacement Video: tvn24
On Monday, February 22, Minister Niedzielski in “Rozmowa Piasecki” on TVN24 said: “So far, substitutes have been allowed for masks in the form of a visor and scarves or various collars that are used. We want to reverse it, so that there is no such replacement” . And he explained: “As for the quality of the mask – whether it will be cotton, surgical or even more advanced such as FFP2 – here we will rely on the recommendation, because the medical council has already prepared recommendations in this regard to use certified masks”. The change is to be implemented later this week.
“We have a new epidemic situation.” Cotton masks do not help much here, unfortunately.
Doctors, when asked about the sense of limiting the possibility of wearing any masks, are in favor. The President of Warsaw Family Physicians, Dr. Michał Sutkowski, on February 19, in a morning interview RMF FM noted that some European countries are already tightening the rules of wearing masks in public spaces. “Germany is already introducing in its legislation the obligation to wear masks with non-woven fabric” – he said. As he added: “Cotton masks do not help much here.” In his opinion, from a medical point of view, wearing only surgical masks is a good idea.
Dr. Paweł Grzesiowski explained in the “Coronavirus Konkret24” program: “We have a new epidemic situation. New variants of the virus have appeared that are more infectious than the original ones, which means that less virus particles are needed in the air to infect us. increase protection of the nose, mouth and eyes with professional masks. And he added: “Therefore, at the moment, we should give up scarves, helmets or masks made of one layer of cotton, because this may not protect us from infection.”
Dr. Grzesiowski: we must increase the protection of the nose, mouth and eyes through professional masks Video: tvn24
“Today we know that the best protection are masks made of certified materials,” said Bolesław Piecha, MP from Law and Justice on the 1st Program of Polish Radio on February 22. He stressed that surgical masks, even basic ones, are effective.
Tightening up the rules on masks
We checked which countries in Europe have already tightened their policies on mouth and nose coverage in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
From January 20 this year, the wearing of the KN95 or FFP2 masks, or a general medical / surgical mask throughout Germany, has become compulsory in shops and public transport, informs the Bundestag on its website. ‘Provide more protection than conventional fabric masks, which are not subject to any standard with regard to their performance,’ reasoned decision.
Federal governments have issued a general recommendation that medical masks should be used when in close or prolonged contact with other people, especially in confined spaces.
FFP2 is a European standard of filtration, masks of this type provide at least 94 percent. effectiveness. KN95 masks filter out and capture 95 percent. tiny particles 0.3 microns in size (hence the “95” in the name).
On January 25, Austria introduced similar regulations as Germany. FFP2 masks or their equivalents are required in places such as public transport, customer service areas and indoor and outdoor markets or during carpooling, the Austria Press Agency reports. This applies to people from the age of 14.
With the introduction of new rules, the distribution of 1.2 million free FFP2 masks has started in the country. Among others to homeless centers and food banks. In the first days of application of the new regulations, de Austrian supermarket chains provided customers with FFP2 masks free of charge.
At the same time, at the end of January in Austria, the minimum social distance – z one to two meters. It must be followed in all public places.
Increased controls at German borders with the Czech Republic and Austria Video: tvn24
On January 18, the French Supreme Council of Public Health (Haute Conseil de la Santé Publique, HCPS) changed its recommendations to the public about wearing protective face masks. In her opinion instead of cloth masks, one should use disposable surgical masks that filter over 90% of fine particles. “The French government now recommends that people wear surgical masks in public places because they offer better protection against COVID-19 transmission than textile face shields,” said Health Minister Olivier Veran (quoted after Reuters), calling for the end of the use of cloth masks .
On January 27, a decree was published amending the provisions on, inter alia, masks. Now only three types of masks can be used to protect against COVID-19: surgical masks, FFP2, and some fabric masks. Of the latter, only those that filter at least 90 percent. particles and meet the health requirements.
From February 8, children and teachers in French schools are no longer allowed to wear cloth masks. They must have masks called the first category, i.e. masks surgical or FFP2 – informuje portal Le Parisien.
According to the medical portal Redaccionmedica.com, on February 11, Spain tightened the requirements for the production and sale of masks to protect against COVID-19 infection. In order for the mask to be sold as protective, accredited laboratories must confirm that its filtration level is higher than 90%. Fabric masks that have not been tested cannot be sold as protective masks, according to the Spanish daily El Mundo.
The new regulations state that all protective masks must have information on the packaging, including what standards, technical specifications were used for the production of the final product or its components, and in which laboratory it was tested.
WHO: who should wear medical masks
“Masks should be part of a comprehensive strategy to stop transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not enough to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19,” reminds the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO recommends that medical masks not only be worn by healthcare professionals in a hospital setting (last update of recommendations: December 1, 2020). The recommendation also applies to people:
- feeling unwell, including people with mild symptoms such as muscle aches, a slight cough, sore throat, or tiredness
- waiting for a COVID-19 test result or who tested positive;
- caring for someone who is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 outside of healthcare facilities;
- all over 60 years of age;
- with comorbidities, including chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, diabetes, as well as with a weakened immune system.
The WHO says cloth masks are suitable for people under the age of 60 who have no underlying medical conditions.
Author: Gabriela Sieczkowska
Source: Konkret24; photo: Shutterstock
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