Personal protective equipment for protecting healthcare staff from highly infectious diseases
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What is this? The arrival of a new respiratory virus, such as COVID-19, is followed by a lead-time for the development of vaccines and treatments, and these may have a limited effect in containing or interrupting spread of the virus. Therefore, physical interventions to prevent the infection of healthcare staff are particularly important. In this Cochrane systematic review, the authors searched for studies of the effects of different types of full body personal protective equipment (PPE), ways to remove it after use and how to train workers to comply with guidance on its use. They did not restrict by date, type or language of publication and did their searches in June 2019. They identified 10 randomized, 1 quasi-randomized and 6 non-randomized trials (total: 1950 participants). What works: Gowns may protect better against contamination than aprons. Removal of gowns with attached gloves led to less contamination than when gown and gloves were removed separately. Adding tabs to grab masks or gloves and a better fitting gown around the neck, wrists and hands may reduce contamination. The use of a powered air-purifying respirator may protect better than simpler PPE without a respirator.