The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all- with the country in lockdown and a rising case count; transmission rates and flattening the curve are now no longer technical jargon but our present reality. With heart-wrenching images of doctors being forced to wear raincoats and garbage bags in the absence of adequate gear, the question arises- what is the protective equipment needed by healthcare workers and how does it help in protecting them?
How does Coronavirus spread?
Coronavirus is a respiratory infection. Routes of transmission mean how can you get the virus. Based on the current research, COVID-19 is thought to be spread by two routes.
- Contact Route (direct contact with an infected person)
- Droplet Inhalation (inhalation of droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes)
- Fomites (infected surfaces in immediate environment)
What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used to prevent exposure to infectious materials. It essentially acts as a barrier from contact with the virus. PPEs generally consist of masks, gowns, and gloves.
Because healthcare workers are constantly interacting with people who are infected or may be infected, they need them the most. Imagine a patient who can’t breathe properly. Now, a doctor would have to assist them with respiration. And to do that they do something called intubation- which is inserting a tube into the airway. When they do that, the patient releases a lot of virus particles which can infect doctors. And a doctor has to do a lot of such procedures.
- Mask or N95 Respirator
- Goggles or face shield
The current global stocks of PPE is insufficient not only due to burgeoning global demand but also due to misinformation, panic buying, and hoarding. Due to growing shortages, doctors are being forced to reuse a lot of this equipment which would not be acceptable otherwise. Many doctors are being forced to make their own masks with handkerchiefs and bandanas and wear raincoats instead of gowns.
2020 has been the year of the Hazmat suit. Blockbuster HBO series Chernobyl to the dystopian movies being lapped up by quarantined people world over (we are talking about you Contagion), all feature the Hazmat suit. Even Naomi Campbell decided to (unnecessarily) don one.
What is it?
Hazmat is short for Hazardous Material suit. The US Department of Homeland Security defines Hazmat suit as “an overall garment worn to protect people from hazardous materials including chemicals, biological agents, or radioactive agents.”
Hazmat suits are Gas-tight, meaning the wearer won’t get in contact with or inhale dangerous substances (virus containing droplets in this case). They are also inserted with a device designed to protect the respiratory system of the wearer (aka a respirator).
Recommended PPE during COVID-19 outbreak according to setting, personnel, and equipment available
Working in a hazmat suit is strenuous- remember your mobility is severely restricted. And itis very uncomfortable. Yet, our doctors are soldiering on to fight the virus. In India frontline healthworks are at risk due to massive shortages of gloves, masks, and gowns. They are our biggest asset in the fight against the coronavirus. They need the protective equipment more than anyone else.
Help Contribute for PM cares fund and procure more PPEs for our heroes
If you want to know more about PPEs or even to Get one please mail us at Contact@vmedo.com
Undergrad medicine student. Medico by choice, writer fuelled by passion. Potterhead, avid reader.