Plaid Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government to roll out "highly effective" FFP3 masks for health and care workers in order to prevent infection.
Research by Cambridge University suggests that the masks, which are specifically designed to filter aerosols, can prevent infection by up to one hundred percent.
The study found that using the FFP3 masks, healthcare workers working on Covid wards had the same rate of infection as staff on wards without Covid patients. Previously, using fluid resistant surgical masks (FRSMs), health workers on Covid wards were forty-seven times more likely to get infected.
Responding by letter this week to questions raised by Rhun ap Iorwerth MS in the Senedd, the Health Minister rejected the higher specification masks, saying it went against advice, and referring to "additional costs, discomfort and the negative impacts of having to wear additional PPE".
Plaid Cymru Spokesperson on Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS says this will come as a blow to health workers who are themselves demanding additional protection.
Mr ap Iorwerth said there is a “solid argument” for the use of FFP3 masks, and noted that the Welsh Government “has a responsibility” to keep infection rates among frontline staff to a minimum.
Plaid Cymru Spokesperson on Health, Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The strong evidence base suggesting the effectiveness of FFP3 masks makes for a solid argument that health and care workers in Wales should be equipped with these masks.
“The Welsh Government has a responsibility to keep infection of these critical workers to a minimum not only for the workers’ sakes, but also in the interest in maintaining staffing numbers, maintaining health and care services, and preventing covid outbreaks in these settings and in the wider community.
“All measures available should be utilised to prevent health and care workers from becoming infected, and rolling out FFP3 masks is a simple measure which has the potential to have a huge impact on their infection rates.
“To use cost-saving as a reason not to give health and care workers the protection they themselves feel they need is to throw back at them all they have done during the course of this pandemic.”