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Partners HealthCare hospitals advise physicians to regulate use of face masks as they prepare for more coronavirus cases

An assembly line of the model 1730 N95 Particulate Respirator in Middleboro.
An assembly line of the model 1730 N95 Particulate Respirator in Middleboro.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/David L Ryan, Globe Staff

Administrators at Partners HealthCare-affiliated hospitals have advised physicians to limit the number of people entering rooms of patients thought to be at risk of coronavirus and to regulate the use of N95 respirators, the coveted tight-fitting face masks that filter out 95 percent of airborne particles.

The precautions come as the hospitals prepare for an uptick in coronavirus cases amid the disease’s spread through New England and as the nation faces "critical constraints on certain supplies,” according to a Partners-wide e-mail sent Friday.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital are both part of the Partners HealthCare group, as are Newton-Wellesley Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, and many others.

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Sales of face masks have shot up as fears of coronavirus have increased. Many retailers have said they are sold out or that stocks of masks are depleted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that only those who are sick or in contact with someone sick should be buying the masks.

Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, has limited sales of N95 respirators to 10 per person.

Partners HealthCare employees also were advised against taking nonessential trips outside the United States. Anyone who chooses to visit the five countries most impacted by coronavirus — China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea — will be furloughed for 14 days upon their return date and forced to used accrued vacation days to cover the lost wages due to their absence, according to the e-mail.


Hanna can be reached at hanna.krueger@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @hannaskrueger.