What is meant by a “medical face mask”?
A medical face mask (also known as a surgical or procedure mask) is a medical device covering the mouth, nose and chin ensuring a barrier that limits the transition of an infective agent between the hospital staff and the patient. They are used to prevent large respiratory droplets and splashes from reaching the mouth and the nose of the wearer and help reduce and/or control at the source the spread of large respiratory droplets from the person wearing the face mask. Medical masks comply with the requirements defined in European Standard EN 14683:2019+AC:2019. Non-medical face masks (or ‘community’ masks) include various forms of self-made and commercially available masks, including re-usable face covers made of cloth, other textiles and other disposable materials. They are not standardised and are not intended for use in healthcare settings or by healthcare professionals. Non-medical face masks are in use and recommended in some EU/EEA countries. Limited indirect evidence from experimental studies has shown that non-medical face masks may decrease the release to the environment of respiratory droplets, although there was conflicting evidence about the relative efficiency of medical versus non-medical face masks.