Face masks with valves have been cautioned against by the Philippines Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Advisory no. 2020-1374 issued last week. The FDA has advised the public that this type of face mask is not recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As these masks are designed with a one-way valve, they allow exhaled air to pass through a small round or square filter attached to the mask. This means that if the person wearing the valve-mask has the virus, he or she can go on to infect others. So, while the wearer of such a face mask may be able to breathe more easily, they can unknowingly and unintentionally infect others.
As we hear more and more about pre-symptomatic transmission and asymptomatic transmission (see below for explanation), it is vital to use face masks that offer two-way protection. However, the presence of valves may cause potential leaks allowing air to flow out of the respirator face mask. Therefore, such valve-masks should not be used in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinic and other healthcare facilities or in situations where a sterile field is required such as operating rooms. The FDA further discourages their use in the community particularly enclosed environments such as offices, restaurants, hotels and shopping centres.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explains the difference and that the distinction is important when developing public health strategies to control transmission:
- asymptomatic transmission is transmission from people who are infected who never develop symptoms
- pre-symptomatic transmission is transmission from people who are infected but have not developed symptoms yet.
You can read the full advisory here. If you have any queries regarding the supply of face masks with valves that have been cautioned against in the Philippines or our services for medical device registration and representation in the Philippines, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org