July 14, 2020
Science

REwear Face Mask Found Conforming to WHO Guidelines — DOST

DOST, PTRI, REwear Face Mask, Covid-19, pandemic

Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News

By EDD K. USMAN

(SDN) — AS Covid-19 continued to conquer the world, social distancing and face mask have become the main “weapons” to prevent its transmission and spread.

Until a vaccine is developed and proved to be a panacea, the 188 countries and regions battling the SARS-CoV-2 will have to continue relying on social distancing and face masks.

Scientists across the world supported by governments, universities and pharmaceutical firms are currently racing to develop a Covid-19 vaccine; some are now in the testing process. Some have bright prospects, reports said.

According to the United States’ Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Covid-19 Dashboard, as of June 25, total global confirmed infections is nearing 10 million at 9,430,384, and deaths approaching half a million at 498,752.

One bit of a good news is that recovered coronavirus patients have now climbed to 4,746,118.

In the Philippines, the beleaguered Department of Health (DOH) said that June 24 figures showed the confirmed cases at 32,295, number of deaths at 1,204, and recovered at 8,656.

The National Government has enlisted all government agencies to join the battle, even the private sector to flatten the curve of the unseen enemy that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province in December 2019.

One of the agencies that answered the call is the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) under the leadership of Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Pena.

De la Pena, in turn, enlisted the 18 attached agencies of the DOST as well as its regional offices in the country’s 17 regions as they contributed personnel, materials, and financial resources to the #Heal as One” battle cry.

Among the many contributions from the DOST is the much-touted REwear Face Masks developed and created by the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) headed by Director Celia Elumba.

The PTRI director described to SDN — Science & Digital News her agency’s creation.

Elumba said the REwear Face Mask has “number of moving parts — donated fabrics which have to be de-resinized if it has already been dyed, for example; finishing with water repellency; assembly into masks by two manufacturers, one producing for the domestic market, the other for the export market.”

Elumba continued: “In these three parts, testing takes place to validate the conditions and to adhere to standards by the WHO for face masks.”

WHO standards, apparently the key to making effective face masks

In an email to SDN — Science & Digital News, PTRI announced the REwear Face Mask’s “confirming” to the WHO standards.

“It is now evident that the scientific perspective applied to the development of the REwear Face Mask has good basis as it is found to conform to the recommendations recently made by the (WHO),” the PTRI said.

The REwear (Re-usable, Washable, Re-wearable) Face Mask brand of cloth mask is PTRI’s quick response to the global pandemic coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Elumba emphasized the face mask is not for sale but will be provided to national government agencies (NGAs0 front-liners in the front offices and back support, including security personnel.

DOST, PTRI, REwear Face Masks, Covid-19, pandemic
PTRI Director Celia B. Elumba. (Source: Facebook)

Here’s part of the PTRI statement:

“In light of scientific evidence, the WHO finally endorsed the use of masks to the public as a part of prevention and control measures in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Prior to this, the organization had maintained that only people who are sick and those caring for them should wear medical masks. The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, on the other hand, in mid-April, took a proactive stance for the general public to use cloth face masks.
“In a document entitled, “Advice on the use of masks in the context of Covid-19: Interim guidance” on June 5, 2020, the WHO published an updated version of the document published on April 6, 2020. The former states the following information:

  • a) latest facts on transmission from symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic infected people;
  • b) new recommendations for the health workers assigned in geographical areas with community transmission of Covid-19;
  • c) revised directions and practical advice for decision-makers concerning the use of medical and non-medical masks by the general public through a risk-based approach; and,
  • d) new guidelines on non-medical mask features and characteristics.

“The WHO provided guidelines and considerations in the making of a non-medical mask. This includes parameters like the type of material, breathability, number of layers, combinations of materials used, mask shape, and coating. Based on the recommendations for each parameter, the REwear Face Fasks conform to the guidelines as will be noted in the table below which summarizes the WHO recommendations and how REwear Face Masks adhere to these requirements.”

DOST, PTRI, REwear Face Mask, Covid-19, WHO, pandemic

To help those whom maybe interested to create face masks, Elumba said the PTRI has put together a toolbox — “A Face Mask Resource Kit”:

“We hope this will be of help 1) so people will know, be discerning as they make their own for themselves and others 2) so it may free up masks for the medical front-liners,” she said.
The PTRI cautioned that social distancing is not enough to reduce Covid-19’s transmission, adding using masks alone is not enough either in giving an adequate level of protection to people.
“Whether to use masks or not, everyone should abide by proper washing of hands, physical distancing, and other infection prevention and control (IPC) measures to avoid
human-to-human transmission of Covid-19.”The DOST agency said it is open to technology adoption of the REwear Face Mask. (SDN)

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