Shortage of masks has been one of the biggest problems people are facing globally. Though there is a high demand for N95 mask that is in shortage, common people are going for face masks that are also either scantily available in the market or are being sold for higher rates, despite government warning across countries.
Usual face masks have to be disposed of after using it once. This is one of the main reasons why masks are in shortage. Thus to end this problem, Taiwan's Health Minister recently demonstrated a 'Do it Yourself" kind of a technique that can make it possible to re-use the disposable masks at least four times.
Disposable masks can be used multiple times
According to the claims made by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), disposable masks can be used multiple times after it is disinfected with the help of rice cooker. The demonstration of the same was made by Taiwan's FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei and the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), Chen Shih-chung, who is also the Health Minister of Taiwan.
According to the video, a metal rack and a metal pot should be placed inside the bottom of the rice cooker and then face masks should be kept inside the pot without any water and cover it with cooker's lid. The steam should be set for three minutes and after putting the steam off, let the mask sit inside the cooker for five minutes. Now the mask has been sterilized and ready for use.
However, in the video, FDA DG and VECC head are heard saying that the masks that are soiled or torn are not fit for re-use. The masks that are in good condition can be sterilized at least four times. This method can keep the mask's bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) at 99 percent, they claim. The demonstration was organized by Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on April 5 during a press conference.
This method has not been practised anywhere else
During the demonstration, it was also said that spraying disinfectants on masks is not advised as it can damage the electrostatic layer of the mask. However, this method has not been practised anywhere else or has not been recommended by any other research institute. Taiwan with a population of 2.38 crore has been successfully checking the spread of coronavirus. So far there are 376 confirmed cases of which 61 have recovered and five deaths have been reported.
It can be noted that Taiwan was badly affected during the SARS outbreak that resulted in 181 deaths in 2003. The country soon took a step and established a centralized command centre to fight epidemics. They formed the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC). Though United Nations considers Taiwan as a part of China, Taiwan doesn't go by China's data and research but it believes in having its own methods and ways to fight coronavirus cases and an epidemic for that matter.
Even this time when coronavirus broke, China did not reveal the real numbers or the seriousness of the outbreak of the virus to the world initially. But Taiwan had questioned the World Health Organization n December 31, 2019, about the possibility of spread of the virus through human to human transmission. Taiwan had in December itself started screening the officials and those who arrived at Taiwan from Wuhan to take measures if they found anyone with symptoms of carrying the virus to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.