While the whole world is called upon to stay home in order to “flatten the curve” during the Coronavirus crisis, the conversation is slowly shifting to the “after” phase. With this, studies are emerging about the effectiveness of mask-wearing as diffused practise for the entire population and hypotheses are being made with regard to the high number of masks that will be needed.
While the official line in most Western countries continues to be that surgical and N95 masks should be worn only by healthcare professionals (SOURCE) – namely due to shortages – studies originating in Asia (such as this one) have attempted to calculate the effective reduction in contagion should everyone in the general public wear masks, combined with social distancing. In an interview with the BBC dated April 2, 2020, Prof David Heymann, ex-director of the WHO (World Health Organization) says that based on new research from MIT about cough droplets in the air "The WHO is opening up its discussion again looking at the new evidence to see whether or not there should be a change in the way it's recommending masks should be used."
As a community made up of different types of figures involved in the European textile and clothing industry, from textile producers and garment assembly to labs, research institutes and materials certification bodies, TCBL Foundation is uniquely placed to coordinate a movement for the production of protective masks.
TCBL Mask project focus
Assuming that individual governments are focusing on the urgent need to provide protective devices to medical and health workers, we will concentrate on meeting requirements for citizens and workers.
To this end, our approach is to:
- Identify and obtain appropriate textiles or non-woven materials for production, in line with the appropriate regional authority or agency’s minimum standards.
- Identify who can sew and assemble masks in appropriate working conditions, and assist in the creation of a diffused manufacturing line capable of employing small ateliers and home workers who do not have the power of a larger company to convert a production line and source appropriate materials.
- Distribute the masks to those in need through contacts with regional government entities or associations. We consider the needs of employers and workers, families and individuals, and third-sector volunteers and their beneficiaries such as the homeless and migrants.
With regard to the first point, TCBL embraces the census of materials and suppliers for mask production created by Euratex and encourages you to enlist your materials or services on their platform: https://euratex.eu/covid-19
Our current courses of action are:
- Looking into the choice and retrofitting of a matchmaking platform to assist diffused manufacturing.
- Collecting documentation for mask production guidelines.
- Studying appropriate materials, especially filters.
- Identifying facilities that may serve as quality assurance.
- Contacting EU representatives to ensure that this project makes an impact through maximum reach.
Mask project task force
The purpose of this article, published in the News section of our official website www.tcbl.eu, is to inform the public and particularly members of the TCBL network of work currently underway and to collect proposals for participation.
If you can contribute in any way to the courses of action listed above, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of any interesting documentation, patterns, guidelines or articles on the topic, please add them as a comment to this article.
- Shuo Feng et al., “Rational Use of Face Masks in the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Lancet, March 20, 2020, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(20)30134-X/fulltext.
Conclusion “Universal use of face masks could be considered if supplies permit.”
- WHO (World Heath Organization), “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks” https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks
The WHO recommends that healthy people only “wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection”. Those with a runny nose or cough should wear a mask.
- Washington Post, March 30 2020, CDC considering recommending general public wear face coverings in public: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/cdc-considering-recommending-general-public-wear-face-coverings-in-public/2020/03/30/6a3e495c-7280-11ea-87da-77a8136c1a6d_story.html
- Scott Gottleib et al., American Enterprise Institute, “National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening,” March 29, 2020, https://www.aei.org/research-products/report/national-coronavirus-response-a-road-map-to-reopening/
In Phase II – State-by-State reopening in the US, the recommendation is that “people will initially be asked to wear fabric nonmedical face masks while in the community to reduce their risk of asymptomatic spread.”
- BBC News, April 2, 2020, Coronavirus: Expert Panel to assess face mask use by general public: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-52126735
UPDATED April 3 with BBC article dated April 2, 2020.