Quality of free masks stirs debate

Quality of free masks stirs debate

Meltem Özgenç - ANKARA
Quality of free masks stirs debate

Face masks being distributed for free to the public have triggered a fierce debate as some people claim that they are of poor quality and cannot protect citizens from the deadly coronavirus.

Turkish companies were allowed to sell face masks to foreign countries provided that they should also donate face masks for local use.

For instance, for each N95 model face mask they ship to foreign countries, local companies should donate one of the same model of mask, which is freely distributed to people inside Turkey.

The wires are a crucial component of face masks. Those adjustable wires inside the masks give a snug fit to face and ensure much better protection.

However, some comments circulating on social media claim that freely distributed masks lack those wire components and are too thin to provide an effective protection against the coronavirus.

“Around 250 million face masks have been distributed to citizens since the free mask program was launched. Unfortunately, those masks do not have the wires. People complain about it, but there is nothing much to do about it. We believe the textile industry is not full prepared for this,” said Nurten Saydan, the head of the Employer Pharmacists’ Association (TEİS).

The masks should properly fit people’s face and those wires ensure that, according to Professor Sarp Üner from the department of public health at Hacettepe University Medical School.

“There should not be gaps between the face and the mask. This is the proper use. Companies must donate masks for local use which have the same quality with the masks they send abroad. People should not wear masks without wires,” Üner added.

The Health Ministry also recommends masks with wires for better protection.

In a guide sent to health institutions and hospitals, the ministry said face masks could be produced in-house in those facilities but noted that wires should be used when sewing them.

After the outbreak, acquiring a permission from a government body became mandatory to export medical equipment. As it is the case with the masks, companies need to donate protective gowns in order to export this item. Alternatively, a company can donate two N95 model masks to sell a protective gown.