Face masks can be used repeatedly after disinfection: doctors

02/02/2020 06:23 PM

Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Face masks can be used repeatedly after being disinfected properly, doctors said Sunday amid widespread reports of panic buying of hard-to-get surgical masks in Taiwan as people try to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

According to Chen Wi-po (陳偉寶), a Taipei-based urologist, face masks can be used again by the same wearer as long as they did not get wet and were not worn for more than 4 to 6 hours at high-risk locations, such as hospitals.

In a Facebook post, Chen said 30-minutes of ultraviolet light exposure on each side of the used face mask will be enough to sterilize it properly.

At home, UV light sterilization can be carried out by putting used masks in a dish dryer equipped with a UV sterilizing lamp, Chen said.

After being sterilized in a dish dryer, however, the masks need to be put in a relatively clean and dry environment for three days before they can be used again, he said in the post.

Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰), chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou, said, meanwhile, that spraying alcohol on both sides of a used mask also allows a mask to be worn again as long as it was not damaged or contaminated.

Secondhand masks have been scientifically proven to have less filtration functions but are still usable, Huang said.

The doctors' advice came in the wake of reports of shortages of surgical masks as the government pledged to roll out new mask production lines to meet the surging demand.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Joseph Yeh)

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