The joint Audiology and otology guidance during Covid-19 guidance from the UK Audiology professional bodies states that the correct PPE should be used when within 2m of a patient which includes the wearing of a fluid-resistant surgical mask II (FRSM). The recommendation is that patients should also be asked to wear a face mask where possible.
Furthermore, the updated Covid-19 guidance from the UK Government, issued on Monday 11th May, recommends the use of face coverings. The Department of Health and Social Care press release says, “After careful consideration of the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), the government confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances.” The guidance advises the public to consider wearing face coverings in enclosed public spaces where you may be more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
The use of face masks with people with hearing challenges has been debated by academics, in print and on social media. This has led to a discussion about the facemasks with clear panels that can be viewed across the internet. Even the National Deaf Children’s Society advice is that a face mask with clear panels where the mouth can be seen or, better still, using face visors/shields, could be a good option. Their website includes information about how to make DIY clear face masks at home for those that would like to do so. They do, however, state that such DIY face masks would be for use by the general public, and not for use in health settings!
There are several issues with clear face masks. The main problem is that none of the current products on sale are CE-marked. However, we have been informed about work that is being undertaken with Public Health England and Clinical Engineers, which, in the initial stages reviewed several products on the market and is now looking at possible design and manufacture to meet the CE mark standard.
We will keep you posted as information becomes available.
Photo credit is in the BBC News item linked in this article