People should not waste masks even with the purchasing quotas increasing this week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, adding that sterilization with a rice cooker is a good way to extend supplies.
Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from Thursday, people can buy nine masks per 14 days, which should be sufficient.
“However, I have to urge everyone to use masks economically,” Chen said, adding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released information on how masks can be reused.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) said that masks can be put in a metal container on a metal rack in a rice cooker without water to dry for three minutes with the power on and another five minutes with no power.
“We have to remind people about one critical point: Do not add water, as steam can damage the mask’s structure, just as using alcohol to disinfect masks can also affect their structure,” Wu said, adding that the method has been tested by academics and the FDA.
People can dry masks in this manner three to five times and their effectiveness would remain at about 99 percent, she said.
“However, we do not suggest using this method if the mask is stained or broken,” she said. “We also suggest that people with respiratory symptoms, chronic diseases or who have visited a hospital dispose of masks after a single use.”
Chung Shan Medical University Department of Occupational Safety and Health associate professor Lai Chane-yu (賴全裕) said that the inner wall of rice cookers can reach 165°C and the temperature inside the cooker about 110°C, which kills all bacteria and viruses, so there is no need to use a separate cooker to disinfect masks.
Masks that are to be used again should be kept in a dry, ventilated place or in a paper bag, not in plastic bags, which can promote bacterial growth, Lai said.
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