COVID-19 or Coronavirus disease has been the trending disease condition since December 2019 and WHO & CDC had issued several guidelines for health management and self-quarantine protocols all this while. Although the global scenario started improving since the last month, the Coronavirus pandemic situation has started booming again during the observation of unlock protocols being issued by the government. In this condition, amidst the COVID-19 severity and increasing medical emergencies, Personal Protection Equipment kit (PPE kit) have been intrinsically associated with personal safety and protection for the frontline healthcare workers.
What is Personal Protection Equipment?
Personal Protective Equipment is a collective term for premium quality body protection suit and protection gears like medical goggles that are crucial for preventing the transfer and spread of Coronavirus and therefore ensure the good health of healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, and caregivers alike), who are on the medical frontlines. According to USA FDA, Personal Protection Equipment functions as a physical safety barrier between the body and viral infections like COVID-19.
Generally, PPE kit consist of Coveralls, Aprons, Surgical gowns, Shoe covers, Nitrile hand gloves, 3 PLY face masks, and Safety goggles. In order to be used by a medical personnel in the clinic or hospital settings, the design of the fabric and other aspects of the PPE are specifically regulated by the government agencies as per strict and stringent guidelines and regulations. The PPE kit ensures greater safety for the healthcare workers but not without other safety practices like hand-washing and using alcohol-based sanitizers.
What are the advantages of PPE kits?
- Prevent chemical and biohazard injury
Wearing full PPE kit, from coveralls to shoe covers, is important for people who are working with chemical and biological hazards. PPE clothing act as a safety barrier between the skin and harmful hazardous substances like viral specimen.
- Reduce respiratory illness risk
Upper respiratory tract infection is associated with COVID-19 risk and proper N95 masks are therefore essential to prevent the entry of viral load through respiratory system.
- Prevents risk of physical injury
Face shields and shoe covers help healthcare workers from injuries by preventing slipping and abrasion while working in medically risky areas.
What are the major concerns over PPE?
Even though tele-health consultations and telemedicine have become the new-normal methods for managing patient health conditions worldwide, it is not always possible for the doctors to maintain social distancing while performing disease detection or treating asymptomatic COVID-19 patients. Therefore, it is very important for medical personnel and doctors to avail protective PPE kits, as recommended for their safety and health concerns.
As the personal protective equipment kits have become crucial for preventing individuals from the clutch of COVID risks, a shortage of the kits have been prevalent. This shortage has posed a huge risk for the healthcare officials who are in contact with patients in hospitals or clinic premises. News reports have also pointed out that cases of PPE kit shortage is not only due to the huge demands but also due to stockpiling of the products as a precautionary step by many companies. PPE kits should be used wisely only for crucial in-contact healthcare cases.
Can PPE be shared or re-used?
PPE kits are not shareable products to avoid any risk of COVID-19 infection spread. Moreover, as recommended by USA FDA, in general, PPE kits are designed to be a one-time use product before proper disposal as a biohazard material. Thus, the idea of PPE kit washing and reusing is not advised or recommended for healthcare workers and lab researchers working on COVID-19. Some research has also been published in journals to indicate the mode of N95 mask reusability. It says that the masks can be reused in case of hydrogen peroxide sterilization re-processing but although the filter efficiency of the re-processed masks have been given a thumbs up, there are no good amount of evidence regarding de-contamination of the already present virus load on the respirator layer of these masks.
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