A homemade face mask pattern developed by local surgeons and dressmakers has been accepted to the Irish Journal of Medical Science.
The paper, published by the Donegal Clinical and Research Academy, shares details for the design and production of a low-lost protective mask at home.
The pattern was created for public and for international use in under-resourced countries where medical-grade face masks are not available, as a “last resort” but important option in the fight against the COVID-19.
The simple method was developed by four medics through local collaboration with dressmakers at ZipYard Letterkenny, who are acknowledged in the paper.
Michael Sugrue, Surgeon at Letterkenny University Hospital, said that while these masks are not a replacement for PPE, they may offer protection to the wearer and to others against Covid-19, providing that personal distancing and hand hygiene measures are also followed.
“It’s a precautionary thing to do, it doesn’t replace the existing measures, which are very important,” Mr Sugrue said.
“Even if you can save one or two cases of COVID, that is an achievement.”
The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to issue guidance on masks in certain public settings in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Donegal Clinical Research Academy’s pattern has been distributed to 82 countries around the world in the past month. The step-by-step video from www.dcra.ie makes the template reproducible around the world and it is both washable and cheap.
The research team has been proud to share access to their design with people in under-resourced countries, Mr Sugrue said.
“We are proud that something like that can be shared. It’s a team effort between medical people and design and fabric makers,” Mr Sugrue said.
“If people don’t have access to a medical mask, this is something that they can create in the comfort in their own home, or hopefully clothes and fabric makers may wish to come on board.
“You can purchase masks like this one over the internet, they are not medical masks but they do offer some protection. There is science and papers which shows this, it goes back over the last 20 years. There has been a number of studies that show that simple cloth masks may offer some protection, but we are not sure about Covid-19, because it’s only been there for four and a half months, that we know of.”
These masks can be produced at a cost of less than €1. The DCRA recommends polycotton, but any material that is available which has a tight weave can be used. The more water-repellant, the better.
If someone is wearing a mask to go shopping or to use public transport, the advice is not to touch it once it is on the face. The mask should be put on before getting into the car and not interfered with until the wearer comes home, takes it off and washes their hands.
The publication of the mask study has been praised as a positive example of the medical world and skilled workers working together at a time of urgent need.
Mr Sugrue added: “We’re proud in Donegal that we can do this kind of simple research and put together a paper along with other papers we are doing from the Academy. It’s nice to be able to share this knowledge with people and it’s nice to have the community involved in it as well.”
The team involved in the homemade facemask project is as follows:
- Mr. Michael Sugrue, Consultant Breast and General Surgeon at Letterkenny University Hospital
- Prof Derek O’Keeffe – Department of Medicine in Galway University Hospital
- Mr Ryan Sugrue – Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Galway University Hospital
- Mr. Manvydas Varzgalis – Consultant Breast and General Surgeon at Letterkenny University Hospital
- Lorraine McClean – Owner of Zip Yard, Marite Vilane and Seamus Hughes
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