Catholic Hospitals urge retailers to stop selling N95 masks

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A patient suffering from COVID-19 is treated at a hospital PHOTO: CNS/Flavio Lo Scalzo, Reuters

Catholic Health Australia, which manage one in eight hospital beds in Australia, are calling on retailers to stop selling N95 hospital-grade masks to the public as limited numbers in Australia will be exhausted with disastrous consequences on the health system.

Image of a N95 hospital-grade facemask which are of limited supply in Australia and are desperately needed on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 – and not hoarded by members of the public PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

“These masks are on sale in Chemist Warehouse and Office Warehouse but hospitals across the country are scrambling to access these life-saving masks,” said James Kemp, Director of Health Policy at Catholic Health Australia (CHA).

we need to make every mask count

Like the embarrassing toilet paper hoarding frenzy witnessed earlier in the year at the onset of the pandemic – which exhausted supplies from shelves- wide scale retail access to hospital grade equipment will exhaust essential products from the health industry where they are needed in emergency and intensive care wards.

Catholic Health Australia is encouraging the public to wear masks – but emphasised that national stocks of hospital-grade N95 masks need to be preserved as there are many other masks that can protect the public. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters) See BROOKLYN-COVID-19-CASES March 20, 2020.

“We are calling on retailers and wholesalers to think twice about sourcing these masks to sell to the public.  As we have seen, this pandemic can surge very quickly – we need to make every mask count.”

A P2/N95 mask removes around 95% of all particles that are at least 0.3 microns in diameter – and are essential in the fight against COVID which has claimed the lives of thousands of hospital staff around the world.

Standard surgical facemasks – such as ones pictured here – are sufficient to be sold and worn by the public without the need for N95 masks which are needed in hospitals PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Catholic Health Australia is encouraging the public to wear masks – but emphasised that national stocks of hospital-grade N95 masks need to be preserved as there are many other masks that can protect the public.

COVID-19 cases are rising all over the country

“There is real pressure on the supply of these masks. Some hospitals in Victoria are reaching out to health providers in less affected states to ask if they can access their stocks of N95 masks,” said Mr Kemp.

Covid means fewer tourists for Rome’s Vatican Museums, but an alternative is available. Photo: CNS, Paul Haring
COVID facemasks in the Vatican Museum Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

“The guidelines for wearing a mask in public is that it does not need to be a medical grade mask, and certainly not an N95. While we all want to protect ourselves and our loved ones, the best way we can do this is to mask-up in public but leave the N95 masks to our clinicians who need them.”

“COVID-19 cases are rising all over the country and we have to make sure our frontline staff are protected.”

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