15 April 2020

However, a surgical mask or a respirator is only necessary in specific tasks, for which there are separate instructions by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

The novel coronavirus is mainly spread as a droplet infection when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is possible for the virus to be transmitted via touch. For the time being, there are no known cases of infection via surfaces, items or food.

Especially in healthcare, there are tasks for which additional protection is required. See the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s instructions: Instructions when suspecting an infection caused by coronavirus COVID-19 (in Finnish).

Please also read other instructions by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and obey government regulations in order to prevent infection. You can find a link to the instructions here on the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health’s website.

Surgical mask

  • Reduces exposure to pathogens in situations that pose a risk of droplet infection.
  • Can be used by an ill person in order to prevent infecting others when coughing or sneezing.
  • Is put on with clean hands.
  • Should not be touched during use.
  • Is taken off by the straps with clean hands and removed from use followed by washing hands.
  • Is not a piece of personal protective equipment or a respirator
  • Is classified as a medical device to be used in healthcare.

– See picture below

IIR surgical mask

  • Package has the label IIR.
  • The label IIR signifies that the mask offers protection from spray.
  • Used in healthcare to protect nursing staff and patients from droplet infections (droplet precautions).
  • Is put on with clean hands.
  • Should not be touched during use.
  • Is taken off by the straps with clean hands and removed from use followed by washing hands.
  • The edges of a surgical mask do not seal against the face.
  • Surgical masks do not fulfill the requirements set for a respirator.
  • Is classified as a medical device to be used in healthcare.
  • The below model has a visor to protect the eyes from spray.

– See picture below

Filtering half mask, with no exhalation valve

  •  Filters particle and liquid aerosols when put on tightly.
  • Appropriate for healthcare operations that create viral aerosol (air precautions).
  • Is put on with clean hands.
  • Should not be touched during use.
  • Is taken off by the straps with clean hands and removed from use followed by washing hands.
  • The model pictured below does not have an exhalation valve. It can be used for a shorter time than a model with an exhalation valve.
  • A model with no valve will become moist faster than a model with one.
  • This is a piece of personal protective equipment and a respirator.
  • The model in the picture is a FFP2 class respirator, which reduces aerosols in the surrounding air to one tenth in 95% of users provided that the user has been instructed in the use of the respirator. Instructions (in Finnish) for putting on a filtering half mask (FFP)

– See picture below

Filtering half mask with exhalation valve

  • Filters particle and liquid aerosols when put on tightly.
  • Is put on with clean hands.
  • Should not be touched during use.
  • Is taken off by the straps with clean hands and removed from use followed by washing hands.
  • A FFP3 class respirator reduces aerosols in the surrounding air to one twentieth in 95% of users provided that the user has been instructed in the use of the respirator.
  • This is a piece of personal protective equipment and a respirator.
  • If the user of the respirator has an airborne infectious disease, such as measles, a model with an exhalation valve will release pathogens into the air unless the respirator is also classified as a surgical mask. COVID-19 is not this kind of disease like measles.

Instructions (in Finnish) for putting on a filtering half mask (FFP)

– See picture below

Further information: viestinta@ttl.fi.

The guidelines of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) are drawn up together with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (SMAH) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. We also follow the publications of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), COVID-19

World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus