Coronavirus: How Face Masks Lessen Infection Spread? 

Coronavirus spread can be limited by using face masks. 

Coronavirus: How Face Masks Lessen Infection Spread? 
Coronavirus: How Face Masks Lessen Infection Spread? 

Coronavirus: How Face Masks Lessen Infection Spread? 
Coronavirus spread is a rising concern worldwide and the WHO designed a panel who will assess the question on the utility of the face masks to stop the viral spread. 

The group will also find out about the earlier estimate on cough and sneezes. According to the previous estimation, cough reaches 6m and sneeze reaches up to 8m. Can they reach further or not will be assessed by the team. 

Prof David Heymann is the head of the team and they will work on the use of face masks. 

He also explains that they will search for the current way of using face masks and if there is any need to change this running way of mask usage.   

Current advice on face masks
We should maintain a 1m distance from a person who is coughing and sneezing as it is considered ‘safe distance’. It is recommended by the WHO to stay protected from the virus infection. 

Sick people showing symptoms like coughing and sneezing should wear masks as mandatory. 

Whereas, for healthy people, they should wear masks if they think they are near to an infected person. 

The team also mentions that the use of masks can be effective only if one combinely with washes hands frequently, uses the masks properly, and be careful in disposing of them. 

Countries like the UK and US advise that social distancing means that there should be at least 2m distance between two people. 

It is proven that the virus spreads by liquids that the infected person may spread through cough and sneeze.  

So, 2m distance can save one person from the infected person even though he releases liquid drops through evaporation on the ground.  

New research findings
For finding out what happens after one person coughs and sneezes, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, US, uses high-speed cameras and other sensors.  

They saw that a small but fast-moving cloud came out after that exhalation. That cloud contains droplets of liquids of various sizes. Among them, the smallest droplet can go a long distance. 

For this reason, the researchers found that the highest distance a sneeze can reach is 8m and while coughing can reach the distance of 6m. 

Implications 
The research team was led by Prof Lydia Bourouiba of MIT and she is concerned about the running concept, "safe distances." 

She explains that when we exhale, cough or sneeze, a gas cloud gets a high momentum and it can reach throughout the room. So, the distance keeping up to 2m can not be an ideal measure to stay safe as they can reach further than we thought. 

So, what should we do? 
According to Prof Bourouiba, mask usage can reduce risks indoors in poorly ventilated rooms. 

If an infected person wears a face mask, their breath will be under control and the masks will keep the virus within the mouth of that infected person. 

Prof Bourouiba says, "Flimsy masks are not going to protect from inhaling the smallest particles in the air because they do not provide filtration. But they would potentially divert the cloud that is being emitted with high momentum to the side instead of forward."

From the WHO advisers

Prof Heymann says that the new research from MIT and other institutions should get attention from others as it gives suggestions about the droplets from coughs and sneezes. They can go further than projected earlier.

So he believes that "it might be that wearing a mask is equally as effective or more effective than distancing."

But he also warns that we should be careful while wearing masks and the masks should have seals over the nose. If the masks become moist then particles might pass through. We should be also careful when we remove the masks because they can contaminate our hands. We also should constantly wear masks. 

He says, "It's not on to wear a mask and then decide to take it off to smoke a cigarette or eat a meal - it must be worn full time."

The name of the panel is the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards. The panel is going to hold its next virtual meeting within a few days. 

According to a spokesperson working in Public Health England, usage of masks is not beneficial in outside clinical settings because there is not sufficient evidence.