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Extended use or re-use of single-use surgical masks and filtering facepiece respirators: A rapid evidence review
Published: June 3, 2020
This review synthesises and compares international guidance and systematic review evidence on extended use, re-use or reprocessing of single-use surgical mask and filtering facepiece respirators. The main findings were: While extended use or re-use of single-use surgical masks or respirators (with or without reprocessing) is generally not recommended, guidance from various organisations supports such measures (preferably extended use rather than re-use) as a last-resort measure during critical shortage. Comparisons across guidance documents and systematic reviews highlight limited evidence, varying levels of detail, and areas of inconsistency, especially in relation to re-use of respirators (with or without reprocessing) during and after aerosol generating procedures. The reprocessing of surgical masks is not recommended. Reprocessing of respirators under controlled and standardised conditions is recommended, but there is inconsistency regarding how or when this should take place and further research is needed in this area. Where extended use or re-use is being practised, healthcare facilities and institutions should ensure that policies and systems are in place to enable these practices to be carried out in the safest way possible in line with available guidance.