Taiwan currently has a policy of surgical mask quota of 9 pieces per adult & 10 pieces per child for every 14 days. However, Taiwan hasn’t been able to ramp up their procurement & production to reach 1 piece per person per day.
Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has held a press conference demonstrating an alternative technique to make surgical masks last longer for the population.
Taiwan has become the “Gold Standard” of disease control, having flattened the curve and maintained low infection numbers over a sustained period of time.
The demonstration by Taiwan CDC instructs a method of sterilizing used masks by steaming the masks for 8 minutes. The masks can be reused up to 5 times with this method.
There is ongoing debate within Taiwan about leadership decisions to donate surgical masks to other countries while Taiwan hasn’t been able to achieve supply of 1 person per mask per day.
Taiwan CDC advises that surgical mask should not be seen as a resource which only Taiwan has access to. Sterilization can prolong the lifespan of a surgical mask and it will help save lives elsewhere in the world.
This article was updated with the content below on 10th April 2020.
It appears that the Taiwan CDC is making a ridiculous claim. However, they took the effort to communicate this information through an official press conference.
Through our independent investigation, the inventor of the key technology used in N95 respirators & medical masks, Taiwan-born scientist Peter Tsai (蔡秉燚), did have a Q&A session with the Taiwan Nonwoven Fabrics Industry Association.
He did mention that when high-quality masks are exposed to elevated temperatures, such as 70°C, for 30 minutes, the chances that a charge will decay are extremely low, so people can repeat this sterilizing method multiple times without a noticeable loss in filtration efficiency, as long as the masks are suspended without coming into contact with or being near a metal surface, Tsai said in an article for the University of Tennessee Research Foundation that was published on March 25.
In the same line of research, a study led by Chung Shan Medical University Department of Occupational Safety and Health associate professor Lai Chane-yu (賴全裕) and his team found that a common rice cooker can “dry steam” a surgical face mask and achieve a sterilization effect. However, Lai emphasized the method reduces the mask’s filter quality and that such a method should only be used when masks are in short supply during an emergency.
However, many netizens who tried the method reported their mask shrank or melted. Lai explained the inner wall of rice cookers can reach 145 to 170 degrees Celsius and a metal pot must be placed inside the cooker to shield the mask from the cooker’s sides. To shield the mask, he suggested inserting the metal pot on top of the metal rack inside the cooker.
Alcohol & bleach not advised
As for spraying the masks with alcohol or bleach, can damage their material and weaken their filtration capabilities. Lai said that spraying a surgical mask just once with alcohol or bleach can reduce its filtering capabilities by 50 percent.