Confusion over ‘non-medical’ masks as they become compulsory on trams and trains
The health ministry is ‘going to warn’ companies which sell medical face masks to private individuals, but there is major confusion about what ‘non medical’ masks actually are, Trouw reported on Monday.
From Monday, masks are compulsory on public transport and the government has said people should be sure to wear non-medical masks. This is to ensure sufficient stocks of medical masks remain for health service workers.
A wide variety of retailers are now selling face masks, ranging from home made masks to certified masks which have been deemed unsuitable for use by health service staff treating coronavirus patients.
Several chains, including Kruidvat, are selling type 1 medical masks, even though they are an official medical aid. ‘We keep to the rules and the type of mask we are selling is not suitable for coronavirus care. So our product is not having an impact on healthcare,’ a spokesman for parent company AS Watson told Trouw.
Nou. Vandaag gaat ie in: de meest bezopen maatregel ooit. Mondkapjes in het ov, mits niet goed werkend. Je zou er burgerlijk ongehoorzaam van worden#coronavirus
— Onno Aerden (@onno_aerden) June 1, 2020
According to the product safety board NVWA website, non-medical masks are ‘to protect other people’ and have no CE stamp or medical claim on the packaging and ‘are not subject to any legal requirements about the quality and the protection which they offer’.
In addition, other types of masks, classified as FFP2 and FFP3, are now being made by Dutch bed company Auping for use in coronavirus wards, even though they are not officially medical masks, but widely used in industry and construction.
The government could have avoided all the confusion if it had come up with a clear standard for non-medical masks, Caspar ter Horst of compliance bureau ProductIP, told the paper.
As there are no rules to cover what should be classed as a ‘non-medical’ mask, this means that ‘masks made of holey old underpants’ would also do, Ter Horst said.
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