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Covid Infections Reduce at Cambridgeshire Hospital After Respirator Upgrade

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The Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has reported a dramatic decrease in hospital-acquired COVID-19 infection rates amongst staff that were using FFP3 masks.

Early on in the pandemic, the Trust found that staff caring for coronavirus patients on “red” wards were up to 47 times more likely to be infected with COVID than those on low-risk wards, despite following the government and NHS mandated guidelines.

Lead researcher, Dr Mark Ferris said “the only thing left to try that could make a difference was FFP3 respirators and they did”.

So as the second wave started to take over in December 2020, managers at the Cambridgeshire Trust made a decision to upgrade their respiratory protection from surgical masks to P3 respirators.

Monitoring the difference, the Trust found that staff wearing FFP3 respirators saw a decreased risk of infection by almost 100%.

Despite repeated demands from officials and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), hospital staff are not currently required to wear FFP3 respirators, except in certain specific situations.

Rose Gallagher, the RCN’s lead for infection prevention welcomed the research and said “This important study adds even further weight to the RCN’s continuing call for nursing staff to be better protected from COVID-19 and given routine access to the highest levels of RPE whenever they need it”.

In response to the call for more effective protection, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said that “emerging evidence and data are continually monitored and reviewed, and guidance will be amended accordingly if appropriate”.

For more information on why FFP3 respirators are so much more effective in preventing the spread of COVID, click here.

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