Masks do not stop Covid-19 only reduces cough volume

Amidst the growing pandemic, wearing masks in public places is one among many precautionary guidelines of COVID-19 implemented by the government.

These are important for the protection from the Coronavirus, however, in a recent study issued in the International Journal of Multiphase Flow, a science journal, revealed that masks cannot avoid the suspension of the contagious cough drops in the air for a long time.

AI app can detect coronavirus from sound of cough - Neuroscience News
Photo credits- Neuroscience news

Many people have the misconception that gravity allows the cough particles to drop on the ground. The small droplets travel a long distance in a straight line and evaporate. However, it is not the case.

These small virus-carrying drops stay in the air much longer as they get transformed into aerosols. These infectious particles can travel for about 8 metres risking the lives of various people. There is a higher risk of getting infected in poor ventilated or humid areas.

This concern does not resolve with social distancing as it takes a minimum of 15 minutes for an average drop to fall on the ground. Such drops are suspended in the air risking the health of the surrounding people.

Coughing while wearing a mask leads to a cloud of drops flowing in the air which is 23 times smaller than the average size, according to a study. When a Coronavirus patient sneezes or coughs, a larger volume of air becomes contagious due to the pressure of the sneeze or cough, revealed journal of Physics of Fluids.

On the beginning of the pandemic, there was a huge demand for masks, people had to stand on the queues in front of the medical shops for hours and even ordered them from the online shopping sites which took a lot of time to deliver.

In order to save time and money spent on purchasing tens of such masks, people have stated stitching them at their homes. They combine multiple layers in a mast with a tight fit. This makes the mask more usable and prevents spreading of the virus. However, there is still some leakage between the material and the nose. 

A User's Guide to Face Masks - The New York Times
Photo credits- The New York Times

An experiment conducted by the Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, they made a mannequin wear the mask. It was observed that the drops would not travel more than 6.3 centimetres including the cane face mask which allows the drops to travel only 20 centimetres. This makes such masks safer and it also saves money.

Also, in another study of the journal of Physics of Fluids, it was found that a few seconds after the cough as the volume of the infected air is 23 times more than the air after the cough. The mask significantly reduces the volume and there is a decrease in the chances of spreading the infection.

Which mask works best? We filmed people coughing and sneezing to find out -  ABC News
Photo credits- ABC

Apart from the mask, there are actions that also prevent the spread of the virus such as a handkerchief, using hands or elbow to cover the mouth while coughing. As they help in reducing the volume of the air exerted and preventing the spreading of the infection.

Mostly, the masks people use are ineffective in protecting them from Coronavirus. Many sciences and research-oriented journals and universities are spreading awareness about the effective prevention measures for the Coronavirus pandemic which people are considering for their protection.

What do you think?

Written by Shailly Agarwal

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