Faced with the circulation in France of the British variant of the coronavirus, more contagious, the High Council of Public Health (HCSP) recommends avoiding the least filtering fabric masks, said on January 18 one of its officials.

“On the occasion of the penetration into Europe of certain new variants (…) that are more transmissible, while the modes of transmission have not changed, the question arises of the category of masks that can be offered in the general population, “said on BFM TV Didier Lepelletier, co-chair of the HCSP Covid-19 working group.

The working group of this advisory body drew up its new recommendations this weekend to send them to the Ministry of Health, he said.

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Choosing the right mask category

The medical officer of health and public health described as “a good thing in this period” the fact of “wearing a reusable cloth mask of category 1, rather than masks of category 2 which filter a little less well, or even manufactured masks in a traditional way, where there is no control over their performance which is achieved “.

According to the standards developed by Afnor, category 1 masks filter 90% of particles, while category 2 masks block only 70%. The type of certification must be indicated on the label.

“Category 1 fabric masks, supplied by manufacturers, validated by the General Directorate of the Armed Forces, in terms of performance, are as effective as surgical masks”, assured Professor Lepelletier.

Other precautions against the variant

On the other hand, he judges that the use of FFP2 masks, filtering at least 94% of aerosols, in the general population “is not necessarily a good thing because we will not be able to control” that they are “well worn. “and” adapted to the morphology of the face “. In addition, the HCSP recommends the abandonment of homemade fabric masks.

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The HCSP working group also insists in its recommendations on ensuring a safety distance of 2 meters and not 1 meter between each person. “On the occasion of the December notices on shops or the end of year celebrations, we actually went to these 2 meters. The penetration of new variants (…) is perhaps the occasion to formalize these 2 meters, “he said.

The Ministry of Health can choose whether or not to follow the advice of the HCSP. “These are opinions which are scientific and which aim to inform health policy decision-making”, underlined Professor Lepelletier.