200 companies keen to start producing ‘community face-masks’

Around 200 Portuguese companies are keen to start producing ‘community face-masks’ now that DGS health chiefs have updated their general recommendations on how citizens should be facing the pandemic.

The new ruling came into effect on Monday. It stresses that anyone over the age of 65, or with a chronic condition and/ or immunosuppressed, should wear a surgical face mask whenever leaving home.

All other members of general society (excluding ‘key workers’ who should also wear surgical face masks) should wear what are called ‘community, or social face masks’ which can be made of fabric. These masks must be worn when going into interior spaces with large numbers of people (ie large supermarkets/ shops).

Tuesday saw medical authority Infarmed publish “technical specifications” on how these community face masks should be manufactured. It was also the moment health security António Lacerda Sales told journalists at the daily Covid-19 press briefing that 200 companies have since shown themselves keen to ‘get on board’, some of them able to start producing community face masks this week.

It has always been understood that DGS’ reluctance to signal the widespread use of face masks stemmed from their short supply. Health chiefs’ concern was that any masks available should be used by healthcare workers, not the general public.

But now that the concept of ‘community masks’ has been embraced, supply issues are no longer relevant.
Nonetheless, the authority “reiterates that the efficiency of generalised use of masks by the community in the prevention of infection by the new coronavirus is not proved”, writes Lusa, quoting DGS health director Graça Freitas’ saying “evidence evolves every moment and is affirmed in a collaborative model of experiences before the emergence of more rigorous scientific evidence”.

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