All India Institution of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has issued a circular on Tuesday, saying protective N-95 masks will be provided to all healthcare workers involved in direct patient care but they'll have to reuse them. This AIIMS circular comes a day after the Union Ministry of Health advocated for rationing of personal protection equipment (PPEs).
The circular has drawn criticism from the AIIMS medical staff, who think there had been unnecessary extensive rationing of the masks, reported The Hindu. The AIIMS circular states the hospital staff would get only five N-95 masks each, which they have to use for 20 days. The circular states the masks should be disinfected upon use so they can be reused at least four times. This will allow the hospital to stretch the usability of the masks to 20 days.
"Doctors are puzzled by what the hospital administration is telling us to do. They are stating that we should reuse a product multiple times, disinfect it by ourselves but then [also] issuing guidelines that clearly state that is not recommended during COVID-19," a senior physician at AIIMS, Delhi, told the daily.
AIIMS has also issued guidelines for the reuse of PPEs, saying the coronavirus pandemic has led to immense strain in supplying resources, especially in healthcare. The guidelines state the most urgent issue is fast depletion of PPEs used for treating patients.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in its guidelines has said N-95 masks could be reused multiple times provided that physical integrity was maintained. When reusing N-95 masks, healthcare workers need to use a cleanable face shield over the mask, the guidelines say.