Evidence of where surgical masks provided to staff and patients protect against viruses: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

After a recent hospital visit there were requests to wear masks. I understand that the surgical masks provided are fluid resistant and provide protection from bodily fluids during surgeries and some procedures. Please can you provide evidence of where these surgical masks provided to staff and patients protect against viruses?

I look forward to receiving the scientific studies that evidence this protection against viruses.


I enclose a copy of the information you requested.

  • Extract from COVID-19 Nosocomial Review Group (CNRG) endorsement on advice provided – May 2022
  • Extract of evidence from Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland – June 2022
  • Extract of evidence from ARHAI Scotland – October 2022 (same evidence as June 2022 extract above)
  • Email discussing evidence of FRSMs effectiveness to protect against COVID-19 – July 2021
  • Masks for healthcare workers to mitigate airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 paper

Most of the information you have requested is available from published studies, journals and evidence that can be obtained online. Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. The following links are published links to information within the scope of your request:

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not routinely receive information relating to the evidence of where these surgical masks provided to staff and patients protect against viruses. However, you may wish to contact ARHAI Scotland at NSS.ARHAIinfectioncontrol@nhs.scot who may be able to provide or direct you to the requested information help you. The reasons why we do not have the information are explained in the Annex to this letter.

In this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) s25 (information otherwise accessible), s.27 (information intended for future publication), 29(1)(a)(b) (policy formulation) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website: FOISA exemptions | Scottish Information Commissioner (itspublicknowledge.info)

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

FOI - 202300344888 - Annex
FOI - 202300344888 - Information release


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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