With millions of Brits preparing to wear face coverings on public transport from Monday, a new mask being distributed from a warehouse on a Northamptnoshire industrial estate could hold the key to keeping the bug at bay.
Hopes are high that the revolutionary anti-microbial mask, which uses a silver-impregnated yarn normally used to combat body odour in sports and fitness wear, can play a pivotal role in stopping the spread of coronavirus.
The material, developed by manufacturer Meryl, has been used by sportswear giants Adidas in its cycling and running ranges and also in a new line of tennis clothing produced in partnership with fashion designer Stella McCartney.
But experts now believe the Skinlife Force 2.0 yarn could help shoppers, commuters and workers to prevent the spread of germs by using it to make a face mask.
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Thousands of the ‘2Guard’ masks have now arrived at Target Distribution’s headquarters on the High March industrial estate in Daventry, just in time for the relaxation of guidelines which will see non-essential shops reopen on Monday and commuters urged to wear face coverings on public transport.
Director Simon Parslow said: “We’re all set to be wearing face masks a lot more in the next few months, not just for our own benefit but to protect others.
“This material has basically been used to stop the build-up of body odour during exercise but with a bit of lateral thinking it’s found a new lease of life as something that can make a real difference in the fight against COVID-19.
“We’re delighted to have been able to secure a supply line from Spain where these masks have had a huge impact in the fight against COVID-19 and we’re confident they can have a similar success here.”
The masks were pioneered in Spain at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers combined the silver technology with specific micro-fibre continuous solutions, ensuring that viruses are trapped even more effectively and do not shed microfibres. Standard masks (such as those made of paper) will shed microfibres containing the virus, compounding the overall transmission potential.
A 2Guard spokesman said: “During the COVID-19 outbreak, Meryl announced its support for garment manufacturers by producing fabrics using their antimicrobial Skinlife Force 2.0 yarn.
“This provided access to a genuinely revolutionary material now available for the manufacture of masks and other PPE garments to help with the global fight against this pandemic.
“Working alongside Sourtex, a leading garment manufacturer based in Barcelona, we have been able to produce the first products from a planned range of antimicrobial fabric products.”
Trials of the £9.99 mask have been carried out among health workers and have proven successful. One nurse said: “This mask is far more comfortable than the disposable versions we had been wearing. Normally after a three hour shift wearing the disposable type was unbearable. It would chafe behind the ears and be painful over the bridge of the nose. With the 2Guard mask we did not have these problems. It was as smooth as silk.”
Others who had previously complained of developing acne or coming out in a rash after wearing a mask said those issues had disappeared when wearing the 2Guard mask while others said they felt safer and more confident in their job.
Government guidance states that, while wearing a face covering does not protect the wearer, it may protect others if people are infected but have not yet developed symptoms.
People wearing a covering should wash their hands before putting it on and after taking it off, and the covering itself should be washed regularly in the laundry with detergent.
For more details on the 2Guard masks visit https://www.target-distribution.co.uk/2-guard/