The measure is being taken to protect staff and others against coronavirus.
Hospitals that have introduced the measure include ones in the City of Antwerp, Herentals, Wilrijk, Mortsel and the Kempen District. The measure means that masks in cloth or material that need to be laundered regularly are not allowed.
Virologist Marc Van Ranst has welcomed the move: “Surgical masks are better quality, but that isn’t the crux of the matter. The problem is that some individuals don’t or only rarely wash their face coverings. That makes them unhygienic in a hospital setting. After a while they are full of bacteria if you don’t wash them.”
But what about people reusing surgical masks?
Marc Van Ranst: “I don’t believe many people keep their surgical mask until the next day. When you use them for too long the elastic comes loose and you have to bin them.”
ZNA hospitals in the Antwerp area, UZA in Edegem and hospitals in Lier and Mechelen are still allowing face coverings in material, but in Mechelen bandanas and scarves are banned as face coverings.