The use of face masks has been a controversial topic, with the protective measure dividing opinions. But now a new study by researchers at the University of Central Florida aims to put any debate to bed. In a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, experts noted that face masks reduce the distance airborne pathogens can travel.
They found that when speaking or coughing, face masks reduced the transmission of airborne particle by more than half compared to not wearing a mask.
The findings are important as airborne viral pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2, can be encapsulated and transmitted through liquid droplets and aerosols formed during human respiratory functions.
This is important as reducing the transmission distance will help keep more people safe from infection.
Study co-author Kareem Ahmed said: “The research provides clear evidence and guidelines that three feet of distancing with face coverings is better than six feet of distancing without face coverings.
They tested the effectiveness by measuring the distance in all directions that droplets and aerosols travel from people speaking and coughing, when wearing different types of masks and when not.
It was carried out on 14 individuals – 11 males and 3 females, ages 21 to 31.
Each participant recited a phrase and simulated a cough for five minutes without a face-covering.
They then tried it with a cloth face covering and a three-layered disposable surgical mask.
The researchers found that a cloth face-covering reduced emissions in all directions to about two feet compared to the four feet of emissions produced when coughing or speaking with no mask on.
The reduction was even greater when wearing a surgical mask, which reduced the distance coughing and speaking emissions travelled to only about half a foot.
It comes as the UK continues to battle COVID-19, recording almost 400 deaths yesterday.
Wednesday’s number was the highest since February 24, when 442 deaths were reported within 28 days of a positive test.
It brings the total number of deaths to 151,007.
But separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have now been 176,000 deaths registered in the UK where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
But latest data showed 129,587 more COVID cases were reported in the latest 24-hour period.
Some 19,735 people are in hospital with COVID, with 793 of those on ventilators.
This time last week, 334 deaths and 194,747 infections were recorded.