Ineffectiveness of Surgical Mask in Preventing Transmission of COVID-19
from Index Hospitalization to Health Care Worker
CDC recommends the use of N-95 respirator or surgical mask (if N-95 masks are not available) when taking care of the COVID-19 suspected or positive patients. N-95 respiratory mask should be used instead of a face-mask when present or carrying out aerosol-generating procedures such as intubation, bronchoscopy1. WHO has also recommended to wear a mask in simple encounters with COVID-19 patients and reserve the N-95 respirators for aerosol producing procedures2. CDC reports that the spread of the virus is mainly from person to person in the form of respiratory droplets when the infected COVID 19 patient sneezes or coughs3. WHO reported the transmission of the virus between people through droplets and contact and not through airborne precautions4. However, there are recent experimental studies that suggest the plausibility of aerosol transmission of COVID-19. We describe a case of an emergency health care worker acquiring COVID-19 in a short encounter with an index COVID-19 positive patient (patient X) in the hospital despite the use of a surgical mask and gloves.