Can surgical masks be reused?
PESHAWAR: Health authorities say the most widespread anti-Covid weapon - surgical masks - must be thrown away after a single use, but environmental concerns are pushing some scientists to question this recommendation. As the coronavirus continues to spread, masks have in many places become mandatory on public transport, in shops and at work. But cost has become an issue, as has the fact so many disposable plastic masks wind up in waterways and the oceans. One alternative is reusable cloth masks, but many people prefer single-use surgical masks because they are lighter and individually cheaper. "Medical masks are for single use only," the World Health Organization has said. "Discard the mask immediately, preferably into a closed bin." But in the context of scarcities during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic the WHO allowed in an April report for the resuse of decontaminated disposable masks when there is a "critical PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage, or lack of PPE." The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed -- in emergency circumstances -- hydrogen peroxide vapour to decontaminate the N95 masks worn by healthcare workers. Other methods to purify single-use masks include exposing them to high temperatures or ultraviolet radiation. But these methods are inconvenient for people at home, said French microbiologist and member of Adios Corona, Denis Corpet. - AFP