New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that N95 masks with respirator valves in them do not prevent the coronavirus from spreading out. He said, N95 mask fitted with perforated respirator is contrary to the rules adopted to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In a tweet, Dr Vardhan appealed to everyone to use a triple layer mask made of cloth and also to encourage others for this.
Director-General of Health Services, Dr Rajiv Garg has written to the Principal Secretaries of health and medical education of all the States in this regard. In the letter, Dr Garg said that the use of valved respirator N95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask.
“It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask,” Garg wrote in the letter.
As per the letter, N95 masks with valves are not able to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Dr Nikhil Modi, senior consultant, respiratory, critical care and sleep disorder, institutes of critical care, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, explained “When you exhale, the expired air goes out of the valve in the N-95 mask. If the person wearing such a mask is infected, COVID-19 virus can spread through the exhaled air into the atmosphere, which increases the risk of contamination of other people. So, in a way, it fails the coronavirus-control strategies.” A mask without a valve, on the other hand, will not allow the virus to spread.
Doctors have been discouraging the use of N-95 masks with exhaled valves in patient-management, said Dr Vikas Maurya, director & head, department of pulmonology & sleep disorders, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi. “If a COVID-19 patient is exhaling through the valve in the mask and there is another person in front wearing only a cloth mask, it does not really eliminate the risk of being infected. So at our hospital, we ensure people in the COVID wards are wearing normal N-95 masks without valves,” he added.
Earlier, the Health Ministry also issued an advisory, asking health workers coming in contact with COVID-19 patients to wear N-95 masks, while recommending others to wear homemade cloth masks. Follow these guidelines for washing and disposing of cloth masks.
Instead of N-95 masks with valved respirators, you can use the ones without it or use surgical or three-ply masks, advised Dr Modi. For others, even cloth masks work because they are usually not taking care of COVID-19 patients.
“The risk is less. Cloth masks are obviously not as high-grade as N-95 but it is sufficient to keep the virus at bay. Besides if we allow everyone to wear N-95 masks, there could be a shortage for healthcare professionals who need it. But if one is visiting a hospital for some reason, they should at least wear a surgical mask or N-95 masks without valves,” said Dr Maurya.
The Health Ministry data updated at 8 am on Monday showed that a record single-day jump of 40,425 Covid-19 cases had taken the total number of cases to 11,18,043.