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University of Hull experts test COVID-19 face masks donated to local NHS Trust

University of Hull experts have tested a batch of COVID-19 face masks, before they were distributed to frontline NHS staff in the Humber region.

An approach was made to the University for help after 80,000 masks were donated to the NHS, for use in hospitals in North Lincolnshire.

Tests carried out on the masks, to ensure they met the standard required for use by NHS staff, were led by the University.

Since presenting their findings, the face masks have been rolled out to local NHS hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timothy Dunstan, an electron microscopist at the University of Hull, led testing on the masks.

He said: “The NHS Trust which received this donation of 80,000 masks had approached Public Health England, who told them the masks would be fine to use as long as the fluid resistance had been checked.

“The University was approached to carry out tests on the masks, and the data from those tests would form part of the decision as to whether or not they could be used safely.

“Once we had carried out the tests, examining whether water droplets could soak into the mask surface, we presented our report to the NHS Trust.

“We have since found out the masks have been approved for use, and are now being worn by frontline key workers.”

Face mask testing

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Prof. Miriam Johnson, a Professor of Palliative Medicine at the Hull York Medical School, also provided her expertise as part of the tests.

The project builds on the University of Hull’s existing expertise surrounding protective face shields for frontline workers.

A team of engineers at the University, supported by a collaboration of schools, colleges and businesses across the region, have so far manufactured and supplied more than 20,000 face shields to NHS and healthcare staff.

Over £80,000 has been raised by a crowdfunding campaign to support the project, with more than 1,000 donations from the community.

Mr Dunstan said being able to play his own part in the University’s response to the pandemic had been a privilege.

He said: “You see on the news every day all these people who are out helping, so to be able to be part of that and not just watch things happen has been fantastic.

“It has really given me a lift, and I know the rest of the team involved feel the same way.

“I have been looking at little drops of water down a microscope for more than 20 years now, and for the first time this really feels like a project which will make a difference and has real meaning.”

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