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Masks in the fight against the spread of SARS-CoV-2

Date du document : 29/10/2020

Date de mise en ligne : 27/05/2021

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Environnement Maladies transmissibles Prévention Coronavirus Covid-19 Masque SARS-CoV-2

The High Council of Public Health (HCSP) describes the characteristics, performances, indications and target audiences of the different types of masks available: N95 masks, medical mask, and clothe mask.

To be efficient in protecting others and oneself masks should be correctly fitted over the nose (to avoid the emission of droplets when sneezing and to ensure that the mask is airtight at the top), the mouth (to avoid the expulsion of droplets when speaking and coughing) and the chin (to fix the mask at the bottom of the face to avoid leaks).

Wearing a mask, including by asymptomatic persons, reduces the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, in combination with other protective measures. The HCSP recommends the use of a reusable fabric or clothe mask for the general public, according to the Afnor S76-001 specifications and preferably category 1 (Non sanitary use, UNS1), in public and private indoor spaces and particularly for professionals. The HCSP recommends to read the composition label before using a reusable mask, and to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, in particular to wash it before the first use and after each use, to wearing it for 4 hours maximum and to replace the masks as soon as they are wet.

Clothe masks remain more protective than no mask, without reaching the level of protection of standardized ones. Thus, it is recommended to wear category 2 clothe masks if category 1 clothe masks or equivalent foreign standards are not available, for the general population in public establishments.

In this period of very active circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and as a precaution, the HCSP recommends children to wear a suitable mask by children from the age of 6 years in primary schools (from 1st grade to firth grade) is recommended, while respecting specific conditions, such as  behavior disabilities.

The HCSP specifies that there are no currently documented dermatological, pneumological, ENT, phoniatric or psychiatric contraindications to wear a mask, whatever its type. In the event of skin irritation, the HCSP recommends to seek medical attention to ensure appropriate dermatological treatment.

The HCSP issues other recommendations on mask maintenance for the general public, information, communication and promotion of mask. Advice for teachers faced with prolonged mask use is also presented in the annex.

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