De Jonge stimulates better protective FFP2 masks in care

Demissionary minister De Jonge encourages the use of FFP2 masks in healthcare, although experts do not find this highly protective face mask necessary in contact with corona patients. The Ministry of Health is going to offer these nasal masks to healthcare institutions at a low amount.

De Jonge comes up with this offer after discussion arose about the use of the FFP2 masks in the light of the more contagious omikron variant. A number of political parties advocated making the face masks more widely available.

The Federation Medical Specialists (FMS) and the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) find that such a mask is only necessary in so-called aerosol forming operations. These are medical procedures such as intubation, in which a breathing tube is inserted into a patient. In practice, these masks are therefore only used in hospitals.

A surgical mask complies with other contact with covid patients, according to the experts, even if the patient coughs and sneezes. That position remained the same this week after reconsideration.

OMT refers to World Health Organization

The OMT writes in an opinion published today that it is currently not necessary to adapt the guidelines โ€œafter careful consultation of the available scientific evidence and international guidelines, including those from the WHO expert groupโ€.

In a conversation with deCCeit, OMT Chairman Jaap van Dissel explains: โ€œWe follow WHOs advice, which is clear in that. There, all scientific advice will be reviewed in detail. And the WHO view that we are adopting is that in most cases the surgical mouth nose mask is sufficient.โ€

That is striking, because the new directive of the World Health Organization (WHO), published on December 22, contains a different opinion. WHO believes that caregivers should also wear FFP2 masks in rooms with poor ventilation and if it better protects against infection based on their own judgment.

WHO also sees that there is still little scientific evidence that it protects against infection better than a surgical mask. But that omikron spreads so much faster than delta and protects vaccination less against the new variant was enough reason for the WHO to change the advice. The OMT may not have seen the WHO adjusted guideline.

In the Dutch guidelines, however, there is room for healthcare providers to decide for themselves whether they want to use a better protective mask: โ€œIn addition, in situations with intensive exposure to covid-19 patients, use of an FFP2 mask can be considered as a precaution.โ€

Van Dissel points out the disadvantages: โ€œThe point with these masks is, I am quite familiar with it in the hospital, that certain checks are necessary. The masks must be connected to the chin and nose, and you should test it for that too. And if you use the masks longer, in the hospital often about 15 minutes, it will bother you, such as local irritation, tightness and headaches.โ€ That is why OMT believes that caregivers should learn how to use the masks properly.

De Jonge writes to the House of Representatives that health care providers can also do that based on their own professional assessment or need for safe work. To stimulate use, he wants to make these masks available from 4 to 18 January at a โ€œgreatly reduced rateโ€. According to the latest figures, the Ministry has more than 43 million FFP2 masks in stock with the National Consortium Tools