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Watching television news images of health workers in China dealing with the coronavirus outbreak is raising awareness among all health workers about the importance of using PPE (personal protective equipment) correctly.

The PPE used in the Wuhan area of China to protect against the coronavirus includes purifying respirators, masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves.

Lessons have been learnt from the Ebola crisis when health workers were working long hours in a stressful environment, leading some workers suffering from fatigue to remove their PPE too quickly. Putting on PPE and taking it off takes time, and should never be rushed.

Some health professionals think that if they are not touching a contagious patient, the process of wearing PPE is unnecessary, but in reality, the whole room may be a hazard that requires protective gear.

Health workers cannot work in PPE for too long, according to Neysa Ernst, nurse manager of a biocontainment unit, who says that two and a half hours is the standard time limit.

All health professionals using PPE require good training about their correct use. Though in some situations the need for PPE is debatable, Ernst says:


“You should always err on the side of caution. It’s always easier to scale down.”

Any hazardous work area requires some form of PPE to protect workers. The Chinese authorities have reacted swiftly to prevent the coronavirus from spreading and making sure that all workers dealing with the public, as well as health professionals treating those with the virus, are wearing PPE.

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