Northern Ireland news

Frontline health professionals being fitted for specialist masks to test for coronavirus told to shave off beards

Frontline health professionals being fitted for specialist masks to test for coronavirus have been told to shave off beards
Seanín Graham

FRONTLINE health professionals being fitted for specialist masks to test for coronavirus have been told to shave off beards in order to get the "best fit" and ensure they are protected from infection.

Male nurses, paramedics and doctors are among those who have been given the advice by health officials to ensure they are not exposed to Covid-19.

One experienced paramedic told The Irish News that some of his younger colleagues in training "weren't too happy" at the move but were advised "on their head be it" if they contracted the virus.

"If you have a beard you won't get a tight seal with the mask," he explained.

"Each of us are professionally fitted for the clothing and they use a strawberry spray to test if anything gets through. If you taste the spray, it's not fitted right.

"We've been carrying these boiler suits in our ambulances for the past few years. It takes about four to five minutes to put them on - the last time I wore one was a callout to someone with suspected TB."

Specialist clothing consists of a boiler type white suits, two pairs of gloves - the second pair goes over the first - a mask and a glass vizor.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) confirmed there was an increase in recent days in their members being fitted for the bespoke masks as well as other specialist infection control suits.

Rita Devlin, RCN head of professional development, said nurses working across hospitals in Northern were "well versed in infection control" following previous viral outbreaks such as SARS and Swine Flu.

"There's no great panic and it will be business as usual with heightened awareness as there is no vaccine," she said.

"We're aware that staff with beards have been advised to shave them off to get the best fit which makes sense."

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access

Northern Ireland news