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FFP2 respiratory protective devices for health professionals in the context of the fight against the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in relation to the emergence of the Omicron variant (supplement)

The French High Council for Public Health or HCSP is examining strategies for indicating the use of FFP2-type respirators in health care settings as part of the fight against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the context of the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The HCSP takes into account that :

  • The effectiveness and protective performance (filtration) of masks, whatever they may be, are closely dependent on the consistency of the wear, the fit to the face and the quality of the wear covering the nose, mouth and chin;
  • The mask alone cannot stop completely the risk of transmission; it is one of the protective measures to be respected (vaccination, hand hygiene, ventilation of premises, etc.).

The HCSP stresses the strong uncertainties and lack of scientific data on several important aspects of the analysis of the benefit/risk ratio in favour of extending the use of FFP2-type respirators to healthcare professionals in comparison with medical masks (so-called "surgical" masks) outside specific situations.

FFP2 type respirators are indicated when performing invasive procedures or manoeuvres in the respiratory or ENT sphere that generate aerosols.

In addition to the standard precautions and additional hygiene precautions specific to the management of suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients, and subject to compliance with the conditions for wearing these respirators, and following the advice of the occupational health service, the HCSP allows the following possibilities

  • Wearing an FFP2-type respirator to healthcare professionals at risk of severe forms of Covid-19 or who have failed to be vaccinated and who take charge of a patient suspected or confirmed of SARS-CoV-2 infection;
  • A change to routine and transitional use of FFP2-type respirators for all healthcare workers in contact with patients in an area with a complex, progressive and uncontrolled cluster of Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers or patients/residents.

All these recommendations must be accompanied by specific training on the characteristics, performance and correct wearing of FFP2-type respirators, in particular the adaptation to the size and morphology of the face for the persons concerned.

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