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France's Omicron wave fuels soaring sales of FFP2 masks

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
France's Omicron wave fuels soaring sales of FFP2 masks
"CONTRE LE GRIPPE AVIAIRE, 12 MILLIONS DE MASQUES SE FABRIQUENT EN BRETAGNE" - Une personne essaie un masque de type FFP2, la norme de l'Union européenne choisie par l'Etat français "en raison de ses capacités filtrantes", le 23 septembre 2005 dans l'usine de l'entreprise Bacou-Dalloz, fabricant d'appareil de protection respiratoire implantée à Plaintel, près de Saint-Brieuc. L'usine va produire 12 millions de masques commandés par la France pour se protéger de la grippe aviaire. Le masque blanc, qui couvre la bouche et le nez, est composé d'une couche de viscose, un matériau isolant chargé électrostatiquement, entre deux couches de tissus. A terme, l'Etat complétera son stock afin d'atteindre les 200 millions de masques d'ici mars ou avril 2006. Bacou-Dalloz devrait livrer 20% de cette commande, complétée par des entreprises étrangères. AFP PHOTO FRED DUFOUR (Photo by FRED DUFOUR / AFP)

Sales of the heavy-duty FFP2 masks have been soaring in France as the highly-contagious Omicron variant of Covid continues to spread.

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With more than 300,000 new cases recorded in the last 24-hours by Santé Publique France and the return of the mandatory wearing of masks outdoors in many cities, the French are increasingly adopting the heavy-duty FFP2 mask.

The supermarket chain Carrefour has been selling them since February 2021, but supermarket bosses said weekly sales had jumped from 100,000 to 300,000 in the last few weeks, with 55,000 sold in just one day on January 3rd - the day many French people went back to work.

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FFP2 masks, previously recommended only for health workers, offer more efficient protection for both the wearer those around them and also has the advantage of being wearable for up to eight hours in a row - as opposed to surgical masks which are supposed to  be changed every four hours.

However, in addition to being almost five times more expensive than a surgical mask, it requires special precautions. It must be properly fitted and not touched to maintain its potential for optimal protection. Hence, so far, the wearing of FFP2 masks was only recommended for health professionals since they are trained in using them.

The French government, on the other hand, does not specifically advocate one mask over another, and mask rules say only that a mask must fully cover the wearer's nose and mouth - face shields are not counted as masks.

In a note published on December 8th, he French Conseil Scientifique had only suggested that the FFP2 mask was recommended for "vulnerable or non-vaccinated people" in the individual protection measures in the context of the holidays.

The FFP2 has already been compulsory for a year in Germany and Austria and more recently it has become so in Italy and Greece.

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