Regardless of the use of respiratory PPE, other procedures to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection should be followed, including maintaining physical distance, self-isolation, quarantine, frequent hand hygiene (using soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub), covering coughs and sneezes by using a bent elbow or paper tissue, refraining from touching the face, and frequent disinfection of frequently touched surfaces.

List 1: Use of N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Cloth Masks in Community Settings

  • ACP discourages the use of N95 respirators by asymptomatic or symptomatic persons in community settings to reduce the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in the absence of any demonstrated benefit.
  • The decision to use surgical masks or cloth masks to reduce the risk for transmission of SARSCoV-2 infection among asymptomatic or symptomatic persons in community settings should follow community and statewide public health guidelines for mask use, which should take into account such factors as epidemiologic data (e.g. reproduction rate, daily case counts, hospitalizations, deaths) and local demographics (e.g. high-risk populations).
  • Potential harms associated with mask use include self-contamination, breathing difficulties, and a false sense of security that could potentially detract from taking other precautions, such as physical distancing.

List 2: Use of N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Cloth Masks in Health Care Settings

  • All health care personnel in close contact*  with patients suspected or known to have COVID-19 should use N95 respirators in health care settings to reduce the risk for acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • All patients with suspected or known COVID-19 should wear surgical masks in health care settings,
  • All health care personnel, patients, and visitors who are not in close contact with patients with suspected or known COVID-19 should use surgical masks in a health care setting to reduce the risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Health care personnel should not use cloth masks in health care settings to reduce the risk for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Cloth masks are not considered PRE in health ca re settings, given the lack of evidence of their effectiveness against transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Reuse or Extended Use of N95 Respirators in Health Care Settings

No evidence is available on the effectiveness of reuse or extended use of N95 respirators in health care settings.

COVID-19 = coronavirus disease 2019; PRE = personal protective equipment; SARS-CoV-2 = severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

* Close contact refers to being within 6 feet of a patient with COVID-19 or having direct contact with infectious secretions of a patient with COVID-19 (5).

Source : https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-3234

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