The innovative technique used by a British research team to cover a beard, called “Singh Thattha“, which enables bearded medical professionals to wear a well-fitting respirator while on the frontline performing COVID-19 tasks without having to shave, has proven effective in early trials.
The team, led by Professor Gurch Randhawa from the University of Bedfordshire and Dr. Rajinder Pal Singh tried to find a solution to protect doctors from ethnic minorities, including Sikhs, after numerous calls from Public Health England (PHE), including Sikhs, and Jewish and Muslim communities tend to have beards for religious reasons.
“As shaving was a mandatory requirement for wearing respirators, many members of the bearded faith watcher community, such as Sikhs, Jews and Muslims, have been affected and faced the frontline health care shift dilemma with exposure to COVID-19 “said Randhawa, professor of diversity in public health at the University of Bedfordshire and director of the university’s institute for health research.
“The redeployment has resulted in a loss of skills and retraining needs, and the training of junior physicians has been affected,” he said.
Mr. Randhawa recalls a similar situation in the United States in 2005 when a Faith-observing bearded Sikh man was denied the position of correctional officer in California because staff were occasionally required to wear a respirator.
A media report said Kamala Harris, then attorney general and now elected vice president, could not support the appointment because beard would be an issue as politics mandated gas mask adjustment.
“In both scenarios, the common theme was that the beard was viewed as an obstacle to wearing a respirator. The other common principle was concern for the health and safety of the employee. There was no alternative choice – or maybe it was unexplored,” Randhawa remembers.
With this in mind, Manchester-based transplant surgeon Dr. Rajinder Pal Singh came up with the idea of using a beard cover under the mask, or a beard tape, traditionally referred to as “thattha” by Sikhs, to enable wearing an FFP3 respirator – an essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors at the forefront Front – and its innovation passed the National Health Service (NHS) Qualitative Fit Test.
“Respirators are the ideal respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against small virus particles like COVID-19 as well as against industrial toxic gases and smoke,” explains Dr. Singh.
“In the current pandemic, these masks are mandatory for safety reasons for healthcare workers exposed to aerosol generation processes (AGPs) with COVID-19. To wear these masks, a person must be clean shaven to allow a sturdy face mask seal no evidence as to why facial hair factor cannot be overcome with a beard cover under the mask instead of shaving, “he said.
“The safety concerns highlighted by Kamala Harris in 2005 that bearded men will have to wear gas masks for industrial reasons and in 2020 for COVID-19 health care reasons now seem to be of the ‘Singh Thattha“Technology,” he added.
According to the University of Bedfordshire, an initial attempt meant that there seemed to be a choice – that shaving may not be necessary to put on a respirator. The partnership between Professor Randhawa and Dr. Singh led to an in-depth study of the promising and innovative alternative. The two also teamed up with a group of co-authors for the study – Dr. Sukhpal Singh Gill from the Sikh Doctors and Dentists Association (SDDA), Dr. Sukhdev Singh from the Sikh Doctors Association, Dr. BS Ubhi, Dr. Gaggandeep Singh Alg, Dr. HS Safri and Dr. Gurpreet Singh.
Over the past few months, the team has worked together to improve the effectiveness of the “Singh Thatth“The technique and study results, published in the December issue of the Journal of Health Infection, showed that 25 out of 27 bearded Sikh dentists passed the qualitative ‘fit test’ with the beard cover under the mask.
“Facial hair, while an accepted risk factor for facial mask leakage, can be overcome by using a beard cover under the mask,” the study concludes.
The SDDA also funded a robust quantitative pilot study in Shrewsbury in which five out of five bearded Sikhs passed the quantitative fit test.
“The concept of conforming the mask to the face rather than conforming the face to the mask should be properly implemented in this regard. We look forward to building on these study results and providing information on future guidelines and practices,” said Dr. Gill.
Dr. Safri, a Hampshire-based dentist, said the technique also helps overcome critical cost and supply issues related to high-level PPE.
“The alternative face masks recommended for people who cannot shave for religious or other reasons, such as PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirators), are expensive, limited in availability and cumbersome to use. Also, dentists cannot perform all of their procedures Repertoire, “he said.
British Sikhs have been campaigning since the beginning of the year to raise awareness of the issue of safety equipment for bearded professionals. The Sikh Doctors Association had reports that some of its members were pulled out of their usual shift rotations in NHS hospitals for refusing to shave their beards and failing a so-called “fit-test” of critical face protection equipment, which alternatives led to a search for information.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)