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Fabric masks can only protect against viruses if washed daily: Investigate



MELBOURNE: Canvas masks can reduce the transmission of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, only if washed daily at high temperatures, according to a study.
“Both fabric masks and surgical masks should be considered ‘contaminated’ after use,” said Professor Raina McIntyre of the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Unlike surgical masks, which are discarded after use, cloth masks are reused. Although it can be tempting to use the same mask for several days in a row or for quick hand washing or wiping, our research shows that this increases the risk of contamination, ”McLinter said.
The researchers analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) that they published in 201
5.
The latest study, published in the journal BMJ Open, is still the only RCT ever done on the efficacy of towel masks to prevent viral infections, they said.
The researchers delved into the 2011 data on whether health workers in their study washed their masks daily and, if so, how they washed their masks.
The team found that if towel the masks were washed in hospital laundry, they were as effective as surgical ones mask.
Given that the study was conducted more than five years ago, the researchers did not test for SARS-CoV-2.
Instead, they included common respiratory pathogens such as influenza, rhinoviruses, and seasonal coronaviruses in their analysis.
It is based on data for self-reporting of washing and is conducted by health professionals in high-risk wards in health facilities.
“While someone in the general public wears towelmask is unlikely to come into contact with the same amount of pathogens as a healthcare worker in a high-risk ward, however, we would recommend daily washing of towel masks in the community, “McEntyre said.
According to the analysis, washing the hands of the masks does not provide adequate protection.
Healthcare workers who wash their masks by hand have doubled the risk of infection compared to those who have used hospital laundry, the researchers said.
Most people at RCT washed their masks, and that may be the reason towel the masks performed poorly in the initial test, they said.
“The WHO recommends masks for machine washing with hot water at 60 degrees Celsius and detergent, and the results of our analysis support this recommendation,” said McLentire.
“The clear message from this study is that towel masks do the job – but once a fabric mask is worn, it must be washed properly each time before being worn again, otherwise it ceases to be effective, “McElton said.

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