Health care workers assigned to care or living environments may now have the right to wear an “N-95” type mask in the context of an uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak, according to new recommendations issued Wednesday by the INSPQ.
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These new recommendations proposed by the Committee on Nosocomial Infections of Quebec (CINQ) take into account the risk of exposure of healthcare workers to possible aerosols in different settings, such as CHSLDs.
In this review, the committee observes the risk of virus transmission during close and prolonged contact between people and notes the increased risk in tight spaces, inadequately ventilated, with a high density of occupants and when the duration of the exposure is prolonged. He therefore concludes that, despite “rigorous compliance” with the measures in place, an outbreak of COVID-19 can lead to a situation where “the aerosol concentration of SARS-CoV-2 is potentially higher”.
The use of “N-95” masks in the context of these new recommendations, however, should not be done randomly, according to the opinion, and “should be considered as a temporary additional measure”, when the “respect stringent protective measures ”are not enough, we read in the opinion.
Concorde’s Convalescence Center (CDC) is an excellent example of a site where these new recommendations could apply, according to Dr.r Jasmin Villeneuve, medical consultant at the INSPQ.
“It’s a non-traditional healthcare site, so yes, we could actually apply that,” he observes.
The Dr Villeneuve evokes several contexts where the wearing of the mask “N-95” could be indicated.
“If patients cannot wear masks, the ventilation is not adequate and several patients are grouped together in the same room, it is not ideal for managing the circulation of aerosols and it increases the presence of these aerosols. There, we could add a respiratory protection device, ”he continues.
Until today, this equipment was recommended only for medical procedures generating aerosols (IMGA).
Easier access to the “N-95” could take some time, however, since a public health ordinance issued last June which limits the use of N-95 masks is still in force. This ordinance states that these masks can be used only during IMGA.
The healthcare professionals of the Interprofessional Health Federation of Quebec and the FIQ and the private sector – FIQP had moreover to have the order invalidated, in vain.