How to deal with Covid-19 (coronavirus) with Plastic Face Shields?

To protect themselves from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease and to complete the use of a mask, many French people are turning to protective visors. But what about their effectiveness?

In view of decontainment, besides the caregivers, professionals are increasingly interested in adopting Face Shields protective. Many companies are launching their marketing, prices are rising on the internet and home-made tutorials are increasing. We take stock with Myriam Bouslama, biological risk expert at the National Research and Security Institute (INRS).

What is a Plastic Face Shields?

Plastic Face Shields visors, or face shields, completely cover the face, especially the mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth), the preferred entry points for viruses. Composed of a headband, to which a transparent polycarbonate screen is attached, “they must meet the European standard NF EN 166 which concerns individual eye protection”, specifies Myriam Bouslama. This standard takes into account requirements such as optical quality, field of vision, solidity of headbands or level of screen protection.

“In healthcare, they should not be used alone, but in addition to respiratory protection,” said INRS in a FAQ. In addition, “they can be removed while minimizing the risk of touching the face”, adds the expert in biological risks who reminds that to guarantee their effectiveness, it is necessary to avoid touching them during their use, or to pass their hands underneath to rub your eyes for example. However, unlike goggles, they do not protect against potentially infectious particles in the environment because they are not sufficiently waterproof.

Are visors as effective as Plastic Face Shields masks?

“Visors are protective equipment for the eyes and face, not respiratory protection equipment. As such, they are less effective than masks in fighting the spread of the virus,” insists Myriam Bouslama.

If given some utility, they are not a quick fix. In fact, “they protect only very large infectious droplets emitted immediately after a cough by a person in front of you. They do not protect particles which can remain suspended in the air”, she recalls.

However, for individuals and professionals outside the medical sector, they can be used in close contact with other people, in addition to organizational and health measures, “such as wearing an alternative mask”, for example.

Are protective visors reusable?

Yes, protective visors can be used several times, “provided that they are visors that meet the standard in force,” notes the expert. They should therefore be cleaned thoroughly before and after each use. If possible once an hour for professionals in contact with the public.

How to properly clean a Plastic Face Shield?

Like all surfaces potentially contaminated by the virus, Face Shields protective visors must be cleaned or even disinfected. “It is essential to regularly clean both sides and the straps of the visors, depending on the degree of exposure and its duration of use”, says Myriam Bouslama who recalls the importance of washing your hands before removing it, and after cleaning it.

“The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is a fragile virus sensitive to the surfactants present in cleaning products (soaps, degreasers, detergents and stain removers).”

“This cleaning can be doubled, in case of doubt, by disinfection using products meeting the virucidal standard EN 14 476 or with alcohol at 70 ° or bleach at 0.1% of active chlorine. It is important to respect the dilution, the contact time and the drying time indicated by the manufacturer in order not to alter the quality of the visors, “advises the expert in biological risks. In addition, wearing gloves is generally recommended when using chemicals.

Where to buy a Plastic Face Shields?

It is possible to equip yourself with manufacturers of personal protective equipment (Bastide, Distrimed, etc.). Several DIY stores (closed during confinement) also offer Face Shields on their website. The giant Amazon also references personal Face Shields devices. “The important thing is to make sure that these devices comply with the standard in force,” says Myriam Bouslama. The prices are around 20 euros, but vary according to the sites and models. As well as the reception deadlines.

David T

David T is a french Medical student, during its free time, he is writing for The Medical Progress and helping us to understand better the Coronavirus.

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