Scientists find most effective face-mask practices to reduce spread of COVID-19

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study, researchers found provide guidance for increasing the effectiveness of face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The findings identify specific face mask combinations and fit modifications that can be implemented by healthcare workers, patients and the public to improve mask fit and performance.

Face masks are used to reduce the spread of infectious viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 that are transmitted by respiratory aerosols and droplets produced during activities such as talking, breathing and coughing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a mask that is multi-layered, covers the nose and mouth, and forms a tight seal against the face.

In the study, the team evaluated the performance of multiple mask types, combinations, and modifications.

They conducted a variety of experiments that simulated coughs and exhalations and then measured the efficiency of the masks at blocking respiratory aerosols.

Results show that layering a three-ply cloth mask over a medical mask (double masking) or securing a medical mask with an elastic brace provided the best protection against respiratory aerosols.

Medical masks without modification blocked >56% of cough aerosols and >42% of exhaled aerosols; comparatively, placing a cloth mask over a medical mask blocked ≥85% of cough aerosols and ≥91% of exhaled aerosols, and adding a brace over a medical mask blocked ≥95% of cough aerosols and ≥99% of exhaled aerosols.

Using earloop toggles or an earloop strap, or knotting and tucking the mask, also increased performance as compared to medical masks without modification.

The team says these study findings are important and timely because they identify specific, practical combinations of face masks and mask modifications that may improve mask seal and thereby reduce the spread of COVID-19.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about everything you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots, and findings that these existing drugs can kill COVID-19 virus.

For more information about the pandemic, please see recent studies about this drug that can block multiple COVID-19 variants, and results showing that flu shot may help prevent severe COVID-19.

The study is published in the American Journal of Infection Control. One author of the study is Francoise M. Blachere, MSc.

Copyright © 2021 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.