A study by the American Institute of Physics says it is not enough to wear face mask without observing social distancing if COVID-19 spread must be curbed.
According to the researchers, though common mask materials block most of the droplets that spread the virus, that may not be enough at close distances.
The researchers tested how five different types of mask materials impacted the spread of droplets that carry the COVID-19 virus when people cough or sneeze.
“Every material tested dramatically reduced the number of droplets that were spread. But at distances of less than six feet, enough droplets to potentially cause illness still made it through several of the materials”, the researchers said.
One of the study authors and an Associate Professor at New Mexico State University, Krishna Kota, said,”
“A mask definitely helps, but if the people are very close to each other, there is still a chance of spreading or contracting the virus.
“It’s not just masks that will help. It’s both the masks and distancing.”
“At the university, researchers built a machine that uses an air generator to mimic human coughs and sneezes.
“The generator was used to blow tiny liquid particles, like the airborne droplets of sneezes and coughs, through laser sheets in an airtight square tube with a camera.
“They blocked the flow of the droplets in the tube with five different types of mask materials — a regular cloth mask, a two-layer cloth mask, a wet two-layer cloth mask, a surgical mask, and a medical-grade N-95 mask.
“Each of the masks captured the vast majority of droplets, ranging from the regular cloth mask, which allowed about 3.6 per cent of the droplets to go through, to the N-95 mask, which statistically stopped 100 per cent of the droplets.
“But at distances of less than six feet, even those small percentages of droplets can be enough to get someone sick, especially if a person with COVID-19 sneezes or coughs multiple times.”
Kota further said, “A single sneeze can carry up to 200 million tiny virus particles, depending on how sick the carrier is.
“Even if a mask blocks a huge percentage of those particles, enough could escape to get someone sick if that person is close to the carrier.
“Without a face mask, it is almost certain that many foreign droplets will transfer to the susceptible person.
“Wearing a mask will offer substantial, but not complete, protection to a susceptible person by decreasing the number of foreign airborne sneeze and cough droplets that would otherwise enter the person without the mask.
“Consideration must be given to minimise or avoid close face-to-face or frontal human interactions, if possible.”
The Nigerian Medical Association has warned that except people strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols, especially social distancing, the country may witness an upsurge in new cases of the viral infection.
The NMA expressed displeasure over what it described as total disregard for social distancing in public places and commercial buses, lamenting that this may escalate community transmission.
President of NMA, Prof. Innocent Ujah, said except at the airport, social distancing as a measure to preventing COVID-19 was not observed anywhere in the country including in hospitals and among politicians.
Prof. Ujah said the recent increase in new COVID- 19 cases in the country may not be unconnected to the failure of the people to observe the safety protocols.
According to him, “We are not complying with the basic protocols that we should observe.
The NMA boss who is also a researcher said. “But social distancing is not working. That is the truth of the matter. It is not working because there is no compliance.
“You see everybody whether politician and even in hospitals, people are not observing social distancing.
“However, we can reduce the transmission by observing the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control protocols such as regular hand washing, wearing of face mask and observing social distancing.”
According to the World Health Organisation, people can break the chain of COVID-19 transmission through social distancing.
The world health body says social distancing helps to limit the spread of the virus.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
The post Face mask can’t stop COVID-19 spread without social distancing -Research appeared first on Healthwise.