Philippine FDA strongly advises against use of face masks with breathing valves

A valved mask. <i>Photo: 3M Website</i>
A valved mask. Photo: 3M Website

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strongly advised against the use of face masks with breathing valves, saying it is not a recommended protective gear against COVID-19.

“The person wearing the mask with a valve can be protected from the virus. However, if that person has the virus, he/she can infect other people,” FDA said in its statement yesterday.

The agency stressed that the valved masks provide only one-sided protection against infectious respiratory droplets.

“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…Two-way protection is needed to prevent [the] possible transmission of the virus,” it said.

It added that while the said type of masks allows for easier breathing, “the presence of valves may cause a potential source of leakage permitting air to flow out of the respirator facepiece.”

Use of the mask is highly discouraged in enclosed community spaces such as malls, offices, and restaurants, but most especially in places “such as hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities including swabbing centers or in situations where a sterile field must be maintained such as the operating room because unfiltered exhaled air escapes to the field.”

FDA also reminded the public that all types of COVID-19 preventive masks must cover the nose and mouth, and should always be coupled with other health preventive measures like social distancing and washing of hands to prevent the spread of the killer disease.

Read: Nograles dismisses rumors of martial law, announces mandatory use of face masks

Wearing face masks when leaving the house was made mandatory in the Philippines since April.

In the first few weeks after a lockdown was imposed, a shortage of face masks due to hoarding forced the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to impose purchase limits on the protective gear.  But last month, DTI noted that the stocks have normalized, and has eased mask purchase limits to one box, up from the previous five pieces per person.

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