By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

– [Narrator] These are
Chinese medical workers arriving at Wuhan Red Cross Hospital with a patient suspected of infection with a new coronavirus. The workers are wearing
personal protective equipment, or PPE, designed to prevent exposure to infectious materials. Infections and deaths
from the novel coronavirus have continued to rise throughout China and around the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, how the new virus spreads
isn’t completely understood. Here’s the protective equipment
that healthcare workers have worn during major
outbreaks such as SARS and Ebola and why it’s crucial in the battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic. – PPE is used for a variety of hazards. In the healthcare world,
one of the biggest hazards is microbial and that could be viruses, bacteria, fungi, et cetera. Some are fine-air particles
that enter your lungs. Some are contact materials. Others can enter through various orifices, your nose or eyes. So when we’re choosing
PPE, it’s very important to understand the transmission. – [Narrator] Coronavirus is likely spread through a cough, sneeze or
other contact with saliva. But because much is
unknown about the virus, healthcare workers are
following precautions to prevent different types of exposure. – So today when you look at
personal protective equipment for microbial risk, such as coronavirus, you’re looking at four
items and they would be a face shield followed by
a respirator of some sort followed by a disposable
coverall and finally gloves. – [Narrator] Coveralls, face
shields, goggles and gloves protect against hazards like Ebola, that can spread by direct
contact with bodily fluids. The respirator prevents
inhering droplets in the air from sneezes and coughs. Healthcare workers wore respirators while treating patients during
the SARS and MERS outbreaks. – The most sort of effective
way of these pathogens entering your body is through
the respiratory system. So that’s why most PPE
in healthcare settings tends to focus around
respiratory protection, protecting what comes into your lungs. – [Narrator] The
highly-infectious nature of Ebola led to the death of
healthcare workers in Africa and exposed a potential
fatal flaw in the use of PPE. – We learned very
quickly that the sequence of taking off the clothing
was very critical. We had people making the mistake
of taking off their gloves and then taking off their respirator or their eyeglasses or their face shield. And that simple mistake of
taking one off before the other contaminated them and, of course, they ended up with the disease. – [Narrator] The Ebola epidemic prompted an update of PPE guidelines by the WHO. A global shortage of masks
has emerged as everyday people try to protect themselves from the virus. – As you travel the streets of any city, especially in these days,
you’ll see a variety of respiratory protection. You’ll see people wearing bandanas. You’ll see people wearing surgical masks. You’ll see people wearing
a very colorful masks that they buy downtown. – [Narrator] While both
respirators and surgical masks are effective at filtering
out large droplets, surgical masks are less effective at filtering out smaller droplets, which can be inhaled through
the sides of the mask. – So what we have here
is an N95 respirator. It’s 95% efficient at
particles down to .3 microns in diameter, very, very small. As reference, your hair is 50 microns so this is .3, it’s a
fraction of your hair. – [Narrator] As healthcare officials look to contain the spread of the coronavirus, they will rely on the availability and proper use of PPE in impacted areas. – The key to stopping this epidemic is a combination of isolating
those that are infected and making sure no one gets reinfected. And the key for that infection would be personal protective equipment. So it’s not just about
you wearing the equipment to protect your health, it’s also about stopping the disease and in this case, personal protective equipment is really the vital answer to stopping
this epidemic from spreading. (bright quirky music)

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