N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Basics, Types, and Shortage Solutions
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is highly infectious, with the current pandemic causing significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. As large numbers of frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) have also been infected and several have died, there is much global concern about protective measures for them, particularly those performing surgery or other procedures with close patient contact. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been and there remains a shortage in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including the N95 filtering facepiece (FFP) respirator, for HCWs. N95 respirators have filtration efficiency of 95% of aerosol particles. Surgical N95 respirators are used where fluid resistance is also required together with respiratory protection, e.g. during surgery or interventional procedures. The shortage of N95 respirators may be overcome by extended use and reuse – comprising rotation and decontamination by approved techniques. The additional role of powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) is also discussed.
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