The corona-induced pandemic has changed the way people go about their lives. People going out of their homes have to follow certain protocols, like wearing masks, keeping physical distance, and washing hands with sanitizers and/or soap regularly. Though the virus has still not been cured, the economy has slowly opened up with a lot of Standard operating Procedures (SOP).
From masks and gloves to PPE kits and other protective gears, this pandemic has forced people to change the way they mingle among themselves. Even a walk in the park is no more a “walk in the park”; you need to cover your face with a mask and also have a sanitizer in your pocket to use when needed.
While the general public have been urged to wear masks at all times and gloves if necessary, frontline health workers and Covid-control related personnel have to wear different types of safety equipment depending on what their work entails, and also if their work involves working in highly affected areas.
Let us look at some of the safety equipment that are necessary during Covid for the general public and for people involved in other Covid-related activities.
The Covid-19 virus has been said to spread through droplets in the air. To protect against inhaling the contaminated air that might contain the virus, it is of utmost importance to wear safety equipment, like masks at all times when outside. Masks come in various types and have different features to it.
Before buying a mask, check for breathability, filtration and fit. It should be comfortable and adjustable using elastic bands. Choose masks that fit closely over the nose, cheeks and chin. Some popular types of masks that are useful during this pandemic are mentioned below.
A 2-ply face mask is made from polypropylene or any other nonwoven material. It consists of 2 layers and protects the nose and mouth from germs that are found in the air.
3-ply masks are surgical or medical masks comprising three layers where each layer has a specific function. The innermost layer absorbs water, sweat and spit. The second layer filters bacteria and also filters out water droplets. The outermost layer is designed to repel water, blood and bodily fluids. It effectively blocks bacteria and micro dust. Hence a 3-ply mask is ideal in reducing the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses.
N95 masks are made from flexible and nonwoven polypropylene fiber. These masks have a valve that makes it easier to inhale and exhale. N95 masks are said to filter out 99.8% of particles that have a diameter of around 0.1 microns. As per a review published in the journal eLife, the Covid-19 virus is a virus with about 0.1-micron diameter.
Hence, it can be safe to say that N95 masks are one of the best and more popular safety equipment to protect against the ongoing pandemic situation.
KN95 masks are very similar to the above-mentioned N95 masks. The main difference being that N95 is the US standard while KN95 is the China standard. The KN95 masks are made from multiple layers of synthetic material and filter out 95% of particles that are larger or equal to 0.3 microns in size.
KN95 is a respiratory protective mask designed to achieve good facial fit and efficient filtration of airborne particles and liquids contaminating the face. These masks are ideal for healthcare workers whose work involves being in close proximity to Covid-19 patients.
Ideally, masks should be made of three layers of fabric to provide you the perfect protection. It should consist of an inner layer of absorbent material, a middle layer of nonwoven and nonabsorbent material, and an outer layer of nonabsorbent material. Masks are the foremost among all safety equipment that can help curb the spread of the COVID-19 infection.
Personal Protective Equipment suits (PPE suits) are important to safeguard against infections or virus, especially for healthcare workers and paramedical staff who are constantly involved in treating Covid-infected patients. This type of safety equipment consists of the following:
A PPE kit includes a biohazard big that is used to dispose off all the materials used in treating or monitoring patients, as these medical materials may be contaminated.
PPE kits also have a head cover made from good quality material and embedded with a hood to shield the face and head. The face side is transparent to allow clear vision when working.
This is a surgeon’s gown made from nonwoven fabric. This gown does not let any fluid to pass through it. It is a full-length gown consisting of shoe covers and full sleeves with elastic cuffs for additional safety. This gown can be used again after disinfecting it.
These gloves should be disposed after use; they should not be re-used. These are surgical gloves that are sterile and powder-free, and easy to use.
The contents of a PPE kit may differ based on their make and brand. Apart from the above components, some PPE kits may also have a medical bonnet, surgical face mask, face shield, pair of boots, eye goggles, etc.
Although COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets from a symptomatic person, surface transmission and hand-to-face transmission also play a substantial role in spreading the infection.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, gloves are an essential part of safety equipment recommended for the healthcare professionals as well as for the general community. Depending on the level of protection, one can find different types of gloves.
Latex gloves provide good protection against pathogens. They are typically used by healthcare professionals when it is necessary to handle bodily fluids or blood for a prolonged period. These gloves have high-tensile stretch and are extremely flexible.
Gloves made of nitrile provide moderate protection against pathogens. They have high puncture and chemical resistance. These gloves are soft and flexible and offer good comfort. For those who have allergy to latex, nitrile gloves are the perfect option.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the possibility of the coronavirus spreading through footwear and infecting people is very low. However, as a precaution, it is advisable to use disposable shoe covers that withstand moderate amount of fluid contamination. Shoe covers come with adhesive traction strips for extra stability and safety.
Adding extra layers of unnecessary PPE can increase the risk of exposure because it is important to reduce the number of steps involved in PPE removal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, recommends healthcare workers to wear bouffant caps when performing sterile procedures. Put on an N95 mask first followed by the bouffant cap. There are also surgical caps available which is ideal for healthcare workers in the OR setting. These caps can be either disposable or washable. Washable caps should be cleaned, washed and disinfected before re-use.
Though all the above safety equipment is designed to provide adequate protection and safety from the virus, it is the responsibility of the wearer to ensure that they wear these safety equipment as per the instructions. Social distancing must also be maintained to help fight this pandemic. People must act responsibly and avoid unnecessary crowding or travel.
In the current situation, we are seeing a rise in the number of COVID-infected people. It is the need of the hour for healthcare institutions and frontline workers to use all necessary safety equipment to keep themselves safe, as they are the closest point of contact with COVID-infected people. Hospitals and other government institutes must have adequate stock of all the required safety equipment.
To help healthcare facilities and all COVID-related institutes fight this pandemic, Amazon Business provides all COVID-19 supplies and good quality safety equipment at discounted prices, with the additional benefit of door-step delivery. Amazon Business has also curated a COVID-19 supplies store where all businesses and institutes can purchase their COVID requirement and the above-mentioned safety equipment.
The goal of Amazon Business is to help individuals, businesses, and health institutes reduce the cost, time and effort to procure Covid supplies. One can choose from a wide variety of Covid-safety products like sanitizers, safety goggles, masks, gloves, head covers, shoe covers, PPE kits, disposable shoe covers, respirators, and infrared thermometers and stethoscopes.
The hospitals and other health systems struggling to procure PPE kits, ventilators, N95 masks, testing kits, etc. for their staff, now have a single channel such as Amazon Business to take care of all their purchase needs.
1) How often should I change a mask?
It is advisable to wash masks after one use. When visiting multiple facilities, homes or organizations, it is ideal to change the mask each time. A surgical or medical mask should be changed when it is damp, damaged or soiled.
2) Is double gloving necessary when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings?
As per WHO, double gloving is not necessary when caring for COVID-19 patients except when performing surgical procedures that may have a high risk of rupture.
3) What is the difference between gowns and coveralls?
Both gowns and coveralls are worn in a healthcare setting as an effective safety equipment against germs and microbes. Gowns offer limited coverage; the mid-calf and back are left open. They cover only the front side from the knee to the neck. Abdomen ties are provided to avoid any hazards. Coveralls, on the other hand, provide full-body coverage; some of them even cover the feet. Coveralls protect even the clothes that a person has worn.
4) What types of sectors may require PPE?
PPE kits are most useful for the following sectors: Oil & Gas, Construction, Manufacturing, F&B, Healthcare, and Pharmaceutical industries.
5) How should PPE be stored?
PPE must be stored in a specific PPE storage cabinet. They should be stored in an area away from harsh conditions but in a place that is easily accessible in case of emergencies. Such areas must be frequently monitored and reviewed by the safety managers of the facility.
6) What kind of mask is recommended to prevent COVID-19 transmission?
Ideally, wearing a mask made of cloth and having three layers of fabric is the best option to prevent transmission of COVID-19. There is evidence to suggest that when each layer of the mask is made from different types of materials like cotton, polyester, polypropylene, it is more effective in blocking droplets than those masks made with a single fibre.