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Coronavirus: Canada looking into disinfecting, reusing masks amid shortages, Tam says

As the global demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to grow amid the novel coroanvirus outbreak, Canada’s chief public health officer says the country is looking into whether or not some of these supplies can be reused.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Dr. Theresa Tam, said officials are “looking at multiple entities in Canada” that might be able to properly disinfect medical masks.

She said if the supplies can be properly disinfected, officials will be able to tell provinces and territories which items shouldn’t be thrown away, in an effort to preserve Canada’s stock.

I think that it is one of the most important, and I think worthwhile, lines of pursuit for PPE right now,” Tam said.

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Asked by reporters just how dire the shortage of masks is in Canada, Tam said the situation is dynamic, with the available supply changing every time supplies are utilized or delivered.

She said, though, that measures taken in some regions to designate wards, or areas of hospitals just to treat COVID-19 patients has been helpful for rationing the PPE.

“Because it’ll be one specific area, one specific hospital where patients are being looked after so that they can look after that supply of the PPE,” she explained.

But, Tam said ultimately, protecting health care workers is the “absolute priority” and that the government has pulled out all the stops to ensure they are protected.

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Last week, researchers at the University of Manitoba announced they may have found a way to reuse N95 masks up to 10 times.

The researchers tested four different types of N95 masks with four different sterilization methods including repeated cycles of standard autoclaving, ethylene oxide gassing, ionized hydrogen peroxide fogging, and vaporized hydrogen peroxide treatment.

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