Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID 19: How to limit the spread?

COVID19 spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected patient coughs or sneezes (we should so cough or sneeze into a tissue or flexed elbow). The SARS-CoV-2 can also be carried, that's why the handwashing is so important.

We use other means of prevention to limit the spreading, for example, masks and negative pressure rooms. Let us see how it is done.

1) Surgical mask
It can be used by anyone and acts as a barrier preventing inhalation of droplets. However, its use by the public is controversial. Widespread use of surgical face masks could aggravate limited supplies for professional use in health-care settings in some countries.

2) The N95 mask.
CDC advises health care workers to wear an N95 respirator when caring for a patient with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. This mask protects against small particles with which the health care professional may be in contact during a bronchial endoscopy, intubation. Most N95 respirators are found to have different filtration efficiencies for the most penetrating particle size (0.1 to 0.3 micron), but all were at least 95% efficient at that size for NaCl particles. Above the most penetrating particle size, the filtration efficiency increases with size; it reaches approximately 99.5% or higher at about 0.75 microns. [1]

Recommendations about use of masks: The CDC currently recommends the use of cloth face coverings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission for COVID-19. [2] WHO currently recommends that people should wear face masks if they have respiratory symptoms or if they are caring for somebody with symptoms. Perhaps it would also be rational to recommend that people in quarantine wear face masks if they need to leave home for any reason, to prevent potential asymptomatic or presymptomatic transmission. [3] N95 mask use should be restricted to health care professionals who need it the most especially in areas where shortage of masks exists.

3) The negative pressure room.
The negative pressure isolation chamber prevents the spread of the virus. The pressure inside the room being lower than that outside, the air does not leave the room, it is filtered there so that the pathogenic elements are destroyed. It is used at the hospital mainly in the center where COVID-19
infected patients are supported.

In summary, the means of prevention are varied in the context of the fight against COVID19 and this from one country to another. However, hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing remain important elements in the fight against the spread of SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID19.

Rebecca ST LOUIS

1. Qian Y, Willeke K, Grinshpun SA, Donnelly J, Coffey CC. Performance of N95
respirators: filtration efficiency for airborne microbial and inert particles. Am
Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1998 Feb;59(2):128-32. PubMed PMID: 9487666.

2. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). (2020). Retrieved 9 April 2020, from

3. Feng S, Shen C, Xia N, Song W, Fan M, Cowling BJ. Rational use of face masks
in the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet Respir Med. 2020 Mar 20. pii:
S2213-2600(20)30134-X. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30134-X. [Epub ahead of print]
PubMed PMID: 32203710; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7118603.

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