Not all masks that have been sold in Iceland meet the requirements which Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason outlined on the Directorate of Health’s web page on July 30th. These requirements state:
“It is advisable to use a single-use mask which is discarded after use. Wash or sanitise hands after touching the mask. We advise using the mask for no more than four hours before discarding. Reusable cloth masks can also be used, but it is necessary that they are made of a material that can be washed, as they need to be washed every day. As with disposable masks, reusable masks can become contaminated on the outside should be touched as little as possible. Wash or sanitise your hands afterwards. More detailed instructions for masks coming soon.”
Now that the demand for masks is at an all-time high, three different institutions are keeping a close eye on the mask market in Iceland: Neytendastofa (the Consumer Agency) which monitors the sale of masks for everyday consumers; Lyfjastofnun (the Icelandic Medicines Agency) which monitors the sale of masks that are considered medical devices, and Vinnueftirlitið (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) which monitors the sale of masks for the business community. Recently, there have been examples of masks for sale which do not meet the minimum requirements to stem the tide of new COVID cases. Þórunn Anna Árnasdóttir, director of the Consumer Agency said, “The Consumer Agency absolutely does not want consumers to wear masks that provide false security.”
She told Kjarninn that certifications of the masks for sale in the country are being examined. She added that the question of whether or not there is a need to issue special instructions to mask sellers is being examined. “the Consumer Agency is also in good cooperation with the European government, from which we receive suggestions and are in a joint effort.”
According to a price survey conducted by the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), the unit price of three-layer disposable masks varied widely. The lowest unit price was 49 ISK, at Krambúð, while the highest was 298 ISK, at Eirberg. The quality of the masks was not assessed in the price survey.
In terms of what masks to look for, this New York Times list offers a detailed preview.
As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.
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