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



MELBOURNE: Cloth masks can reduce the transmission of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, only if they are washed daily at high temperatures, according to a study.
“Both cloth and surgical masks should be considered ‘contaminated’ after use,” said Professor Raina MacIntyre of the University of New South Wales in Australia.
“Unlike surgical masks, which are disposed of after use, tissue masks are reused. Although it can be tempting to use the same mask for multiple consecutive days, or to quickly hand wash or scrub it, our research suggests that this increases the risk of contamination, ”Maclintyre said.
The researchers analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) they published in 201
5.
The latest study, published in the BMJ Open journal, is still the only RCT ever conducted on the efficacy of cloth masks in the prevention of viral infections, they said.
The researchers delved into 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 cloth the masks were washed in the hospital laundry, they were as effective as surgery mask.
Since 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 self-reported washing data and was conducted by healthcare professionals in high-risk wards in a healthcare setting.
“While someone in the general public wears a clothmask are unlikely to come into contact with the same amount of pathogens as the health care worker in a high-risk ward, we would still recommend daily washing of cloth masks in the community, “Maclntyre said.
According to the analysis, hand washing of the masks did not provide adequate protection.
Healthcare workers who washed their hand masks themselves had double the risk of infection than those who used the hospital’s laundry room, the researchers said.
Most of the people in the RCT have hand washed their masks, and this may be why the file cloth the masks misbehaved in the original process, they said.
“WHO recommends washing masks in a washing machine with hot water at 60 degrees Celsius and laundry detergent, and the results of our analysis support this recommendation,” MacIntyre said.
“The clear message of this research is this cloth masks work, but once a cloth mask has been put on, it must be properly washed each time before being put on again, otherwise it stops being effective, “said Maclntyre

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