LONDON (AFP) – Asian-born healthcare workers and medical staff are less likely to use face masks that fit them properly, making them more vulnerable to infection, according to a report Tuesday (September 15th). ) which calls for a more powerful equipment test.
The report published in the journal Anesthesia looked at studies on various methods used to evaluate filtering masks such as the N95 and FFP2 models used by medical staff in high-risk situations.
The authors said that to ensure that a mask cannot leak, it must fit adequately into the shape of the user’s face, adding that this appears to be more important for protection against viral spread in the air than the mask’s filtering ability. itself.
But hospitals can sometimes lack the time and resources to perform more rigorous tests, often leaving it up to staff to evaluate their equipment.
“Satisfactory air protection will only be provided if the filter face breaths are properly placed on the individual’s face, providing a tight face seal,” said co-author Professor Britta von Ungern-Sternberg, of the University of Western Australia.
“Air protection is reduced in the presence of a leak as unfiltered air will be drawn inside the mask.”
Their review relied on pre-pandemic research suggesting that at the highest level of “reasonable evidence”, only 85 percent of women could be equipped with a respirator, compared with 95 percent of men, while men also had more likely to find a suitable mask the first time around.
They also observed other research showing higher initial earnings rates in Caucasians (90 percent) compared to Asians (84 percent) and said particularly low initial earnings rates were reported in Asian women, with an average reported only 60 percent.
In the US, the report said authorities use a fit-test panel to assess the appropriateness of N95 masks offered to healthcare workers.
But the authors note that the facial dimensions represented by the panel are based on a group of people in whom women and Asians are “under-represented”.
In many parts of the world, women make up at least three-quarters of all health care personnel.
The report noted that full testing of masks was often a standard requirement, but suggested that equipment shortages and time constraints in the pandemic further undermined the ability of health care authorities to adequately test breathing apparatus.
Health workers have been shown to be at much higher risk of infection.
Research published in the public health journal The Lancet in July found that front-line workers were more than three times more likely to be positive in Britain and the US than the general population at the start of the pandemic, with the rate rising to five times for ethnic minority medical personnel.
The study also found that front-line medical staff who said they did not have enough protective equipment – such as masks, gloves and dresses – were 30 percent more likely to come out positive than those who said they had the right equipment.
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