Use of cloth masks in the practice of infection control – evidence and policy gaps

  • Abrar Ahmad Chughtai School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Holly Seale School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Chandini Raina MacIntyre 1. School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia 2. National Centre for Immunization Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (NCIRS), The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Australia

Abstract

Cloth masks are commonly used in low and middle income countries. It is generally believed that the primary purpose of cloth masks is to prevent spread of infections from the wearer. However, historical evidence shows that they had been used in the past for protection of health care workers (HCWs) from respiratory infections. Currently there is a lack of evidence on the efficacy of cloth masks. In this paper, we examined the evidence on the efficacy of cloth masks and discuss the use of cloth masks as a mode of protection from infections in HCWs. We also discuss various methods to improve the effectiveness of cloth masks; for example; type of fabric, masks design and face fit. Further research is required to validate the use of cloth masks in HCWs for prevention of respiratory infections.

Author Biography

Abrar Ahmad Chughtai, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia
Research Officer, UNSW
Published
2013-06-19
Section
Original Articles