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Coronavirus: Netherlands recalls 'defective' masks bought from China

29.03.2020

Hundreds of thousands of masks sent to Dutch hospitals have been recalled after tests showed they failed to protect the face or had defective filters. The Netherlands recently bought 1.3 million masks from China.

The Dutch government has ordered a recall of around 600,000 masks out of a shipment of 1.3 million from China after they failed to meet quality standards.

The defective masks had already been distributed to several hospitals currently battling the COVID-19 outbreak, news agency AFP and Dutch media reported. The Dutch Health Ministry has kept the rest of the shipment on hold.

An inspection revealed that the FFP2 masks did not protect the face properly or had defective filter membranes. The fine filters stop the virus from entering the mouth or nose. The masks failed more than one inspection.

"A second test also revealed that the masks did not meet the quality norms. Now it has been decided not to use any of this shipment," said the Health Ministry said in a statement to news agency AFP.

Read more: How well do face masks protect against viruses, droplets and dust?

The masks were delivered to the Netherlands by a Chinese manufacturer on March 21. The Health Ministry said it would conduct extra testing on any future shipments.

Several hospitals in the Netherlands had already rejected some of the shipment even before the Health Ministry issued the recall.

"When they were delivered to our hospital, I immediately rejected those masks," a hospital source told Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

China is sending millions of masks and medical supplies to countries across the world to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Countries that are receiving China's supplies include Serbia, Liberia, France, the Philippines and the Czech Republic.

The Netherlands currently has over 9,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Over 630 people have already died in the western European country due to the virus.

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How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Better than nothing

It has not been proven that the face masks seen above can effectively protect you against viral infections. That said, these masks are probably able to catch some germs before they reach your mouth or nose. More importantly, they prevent people from touching their mouth or nose (which most people do instinctually). If you are already sick, such masks may keep you from infecting others.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Disinfect your hands

One of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus is to frequently clean your hands, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of recommendations. The WHO recommends alcohol-based hand rub, like the ones seen here in a hospital.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Soap and water will do as well

The simpler day-to-day solution is to use water and soap, if you've got some handy. But make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Health authorities in the US recommend washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, making sure to pay attention to areas like your fingertips, thumbs and underneath your nails.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Coughing and sneezing - but doing it right!

So here's what the doctors recommend: When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your flexed elbow. Or use tissue — but then immediately throw that tissue away and wash your hands. With your shirt or sweater, however, no, you don't need to throw them away. Do wash them frequently, though, or take them to the dry cleaner's.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Stay away!

Another recommendation that may not work for everybody: Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough! If you have to tend to sick people, make doubly sure to take additional protective measures.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Got a fever? Go to the doctor, not on a trip!

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. Avoid public places so you don't infect others. And also, explain to your doctor where you've previously traveled and who you may have come in contact with.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Avoid contact!

When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of the novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals. That includes any surfaces that are in contact with animals as well.

How to protect yourself against the coronavirus
Well done — not rare!

Cook meat thoroughly. The consumption of raw, or undercooked, animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods. These are good food safety practices and help prevent the spread of illnesses.

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Ankita Mukhopadhyay (with AFP)