Medical masks and Respirators for the Protection of Healthcare Workers from SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses
Ippolito, Mariachiara et al.
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The use of medical masks and respirators as personal protective equipment is pivotal to reducing the level of biological hazard to which healthcare workers are exposed during the outbreak of highly diffusible pathogens, such as the recent novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, during this pandemic, supplies are rapidly running out worldwide, with potential consequences for the rate of occupational infections. Also, knowledge about specific characteristics of respirators is of utmost importance to select the proper type according to the clinical setting. A wide variety of literature is available on the topic, but mostly based on Influenza viruses infection models. Clinical evidence on the use of respirators is poor and interest in the topic has not been constant over time. A better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 transmission is needed, together with high-quality clinical data on the use of respirators or alternative devices. Moreover, healthcare workers, regardless of their level of experience, should receive specific training. This review aims to summarize the available evidence on the use of medical masks and respirators in the context of viral infections, especially the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).