Jul 20, 2020

Through an official statement posted on its Facebook page, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly advised the public against the use of face masks with valves amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to its capacity to provide “one-way protection” only, which means if a person who has the virus wears it, they may be able to transmit the virus to others.

In its statement, the government agency wrote, “FDA does not recommend use of face masks with valve or valve-masks during these times. The masks are designed with a one-way valve allowing exhaled air to pass through a small round or square filter disc attached to the frontpiece. Some commercially available cloth masks also feature a valve. These type of face masks provide one-way barrier protection against respiratory droplets.” 

However, preventing possible virus transmission requires a “two-way protection” which face masks with valves, unfortunately, do not offer.

“The presence of valves may cause a potential source of leakage permitting air to flow out of the respirator facepiece. Though the valve mask allows easier breathing, this does not provide the needed barrier protection. The person wearing the valve-mask is protected but if that person has the disease, he/she can spread the virus to other people,” stated FDA.

Thus, the agency said that face masks with valves should not be used in hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities like swabbing centers. FDA also discourages the public from using it in places frequented by a high number of people, as well as those with enclosed spaces like malls, offices, restaurants and hotels.

On a Facebook post, The Medical City also discouraged the wearing of face masks with valves.

“While masks with valves are designed to ease exhalation and decrease humidity for the wearer, they do not block transmission of COVID-19 because they allow exhaled air and droplets to escape,” wrote the hospital management in its post. Additionally, The Medical City announced that they are not allowing patients and companions wearing the said masks to enter all of its hospitals’ premises.

Header photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

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