The Supreme Council of Public Health recommends in an advisory report to “hold stock” [de masques] in the general population” to prepare for potential “infectious risks”.
This is a lesson to be learned from the current health crisis. In March 2020, when the Covid-19 hit France hard, the French discovered with surprise their dependence on foreign countries, especially for basic commodities such as medicines. Masks are also quickly running out for professionals fighting the virus step-by-step, causing controversy.
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Two years later, health authorities are preparing for the future. In February, the General Directorate of Public Health (DGS) contacted the Supreme Council of Public Health (HCSP) to say “determine the number of masks, respiratory protective equipment (APR) and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to be kept in the state stock managed by Public Health FranceA way to ensure France is ready to face potential health crises and avoid the spring 2020 fiasco.
In an opinion dated April 15 and published on Wednesday, the experts first recall that they defined different types of target groups: health professionals,non-professional health personnel», patients, contact cases, persons at risk and the general population. Each target has its own specificities, but state supplies must cover “at least 10 weeks” of mask needs for the various groups. †The state has built up a national stock of masks, the level of which is set at 800 million surgical masks and 200 million FFP2 masks to cover 10 weeks of crisis consumption.“, specified a message from last August.
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It is difficult to estimate the exact amounts needed, the HCSP acknowledges. To define them, three scenarios are proposed: one where “the entire target group wears a surgical mask“, the other where surgical masks or FFP2 can be worn alternately, and a third where “all professionals and the general population» wear FFP2. On a daily basis, if the needs vary according to the scenarios, they remain significant: a health professional would use between four and twelve per day, a professional in contact with the public between two and eight, a contact case between two and four, a person with an immunocompromised between three and six and an average person who moves between two and three.
Quantity is not everything: even if equipment is available,drifts offand bad practices limit their usefulness. Thereby, “citizens who do not systematically throw away their masks after removal, handle them regularly and then put them in their pockets for reuse» are all counterexamples, showing that, in general, the instructions for the proper use of safeguards «are difficult to apply in the general population», Specifies the HCSP.
Two boxes of masks recommended
Thus, the demand would be significant and require preparation. In particular, in its various recommendations in view of a possible future pandemic, the HCSP proposes to more accurately define the “effective use of masks in the general population“, and to promote reusable masks as a priority. The French should also be encouraged to “have a permanent stock of one or two boxes of masks for the general public“at home, so that security can be secured immediately”the entire population through universal masking“, the time to mobilize state supplies.
Reusable masks should remain on the market, the HCSP adds. State reserves, meanwhile, should integrate FFP2 masks”of different sizes to accommodate facial morphologies» and manufacturers should be encouraged to «Maintain production capacity for reusable cloth masks for the general public“. In addition, a “local local stock at the expense of employers and citizensmust be maintained.
Please note that these recommendations only “recommendations»: it is up to the authorities whether or not to confiscate it. But the message is clear: France must arm itself to face future health crises, and citizens also have their part to play by stockpiling at home. For the time being, since the abolition of the public transport obligation, the mask is no longer required in France, except in certain very specific places: health and medico-social institutions, such as hospitals, surgeries medical professionals, pharmacies, laboratories or nursing homes. The famous square of cloth is required there”if the health situation requires it‘ said the Ministry of Health.
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