Respiratory and Facial Protection: Current Perspectives in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

David Peres, José Pedro Boléo-Tomé, Gilda Santos


The new SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is an example of an international public health emergency, which is associated with considerable social and economic challenges. At the healthcare level there is the risk that nosocomial outbreaks can be local amplifiers. Adequate infection control practices are of critical importance, which include proper use of personal protective equipment. This equipment must be appropriate to the pathogen transmission route that, in the case of SARS-CoV-2, occurs through droplet and contact routes. The infected individual, when talking, coughing or sneezing, spreads droplets containing the virus, directly contaminating other individuals within one to two meters of distance, as well as the surrounding environment. Airborne transmission may occur when aerosol-generating procedures are performed. Concerning respiratory protection, there is currently weak evidence that the use of respirators provides better protection than surgical masks for SARS-CoV-2 or other viruses (with the exception of aerosol-generating procedures, in which case the use of a respirator is recommended). Eye protection should be guaranteed whenever there is a risk of splashes, droplets or
aerosols. The use of different, or higher than necessary, level of personal protective equipment, for the transmission route of the agent, is a form of misuse and can affect its supply for situations when it is clearly indicated. The adequate provision of protective equipment, as well as training of healthcare professionals in its correct use, is highly recommended to ensure safety of care.


COVID-19; Masks; Personal Protective Equipment; Respiratory Protective Devices; SARS-CoV-2


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