Coronavirus prevention: What to do so that masks protect more against covid-19, according to new study

During the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have been used as source control devices to reduce the expulsion of respiratory aerosols from infected people. Modifications such as mask braces, hook straps, and double mask have now been proposed to improve fit. However, data on source control are limited.

Recently, a study was carried out in which scientists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) participated, with the aim of providing better guidance and guidance to increase the effectiveness of masks to reduce the spread of codiv-19.

The results of that study were published in American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the journal of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

According to the publication, the scientists identified specific mask combinations and fit modifications that can be applied by healthcare workers, patients and the general public.

  • Face masks reduce the release of respiratory aerosols (called source control).
  • Poorly fitting masks allow respiratory aerosols to escape through facial seal leaks.
  • Fit modifications improve the performance of face masks as source control devices.
  • The unmodified medical masks blocked 56% of the cough sprays and 42% of the exhaled sprays.
  • An elastic support over a mask blocked 95% of the cough and 99% of the exhaled aerosols.

The effectiveness of mask fit modifications was determined by performing fit testing on human subjects and simulator manikins and performing simulated coughs and exhalations using a source control measurement system.

Unmodified medical masks blocked 56% of cough sprays and 42% of exhaled sprays. Modifying the fit by crossing the ear hooks or placing a holder under the mask did not improve performance, while the use of ear hooks, a hook strap, and knotting and folding the mask increased performance.

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The most effective modifications to improve the performance of the source control were double masking and the use of a mask clamp.

Placing a cloth mask over a medical mask blocked more than 85% of the cough sprays and 91% of the exhaled sprays.

Putting a brace over a medical mask blocked more than 95% of the cough sprays and 99% of the exhaled sprays.

Fit modifications can greatly improve the performance of face masks as source control devices for respiratory aerosols, according to the study.

SARS-CoV-2 is a highly infectious respiratory virus that is transmitted primarily by respiratory aerosols and droplets emitted during activities such as talking, breathing, and coughing. In the past, aerosols were defined as particles suspended in the air from <5 µm de diámetro mientras que las gotas tienen> 5 µm, but more recent work based on aerosol physics defines aerosols as <100 µm y las gotas son> 100 µm.

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Several factors influence the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, including particle size, the receiver’s inhalation exposure, and its susceptibility. Because symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 can exhibit a high viral load in their respiratory fluids, CDC recommends that all people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in public places closed to reduce community transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To maximize protection against highly contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2, fully vaccinated individuals are also advised to wear a face mask indoors, particularly in areas of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

Wearing a mask to protect other people from potentially infectious aerosols and droplets, called source control, has been shown to be a very effective infection control strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Face masks provide a physical barrier to the expulsion of aerosols and droplets, and offer limited personal respiratory protection against aerosols that can enter the nose and mouth.

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“The performance of masks as control devices for the spread of covid-19 depends on the ability of the mask material to filter aerosols and how the mask fits the person,” said biologist Françoise Blachere, researcher at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and author of the report.

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