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Australian researchers trials converted snorkel masks

Photo: Monash Uni trials converted snorkel masks
Monash University is researching whether snorkel masks could be used in the fight to protect health workers from contracting the coronavirus.

Adapted recreational snorkel masks will be trialled by Australian researchers as a way of reducing the spread of COVID-19 amongst health workers and patients.

The work is being undertaken by researchers from the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering and clinicians from Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre as part of a trial of a range of alternative protection solutions.

The design of a snorkel mask allows for the delivery of oxygen while simultaneously filtering air as it is exhaled, limiting the spread of contaminated droplets.
Dr Simon Joosten, senior research fellow at Monash University and respiratory specialist at Monash Health, said researchers had considered how best patients could be ventilated while reducing viral spread.

"This led to designing new prototypes, undertaking lab experiments and now testing our solutions with patients in clinical trials to address these challenges," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"This important work will assist in the usage of these types of masks worldwide."

In another potential solution, the Monash teams are also developing modified CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) ventilation masks for critically ill patients.

Ordinary CPAP masks have a vent in the front that prevents patients from rebreathing their own carbon dioxide.

However, the vent can also allow sick patients to spread to virus to other patients and health care staff.

The team has developed a sealed CPAP mask which, along with the snorkel mask, also has the potential to provide treatment while minimising virus spread.

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