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As workplaces have opened up, people are moving out more and working in indoor environments. That has reduced the possibility of social and physical distancing, and increased the importance of following protocols. Still, the two metres physical distancing guideline won’t be enough if people don’t wear masks, according to a new study.
Researchers from Quebec, Illinois, and Texas, conducted a studty, findings of which were published in the journal ‘Building and Environment’. It states that wearing a mask indoors can reduce the contamination range of airborne particles by about 67 percent.
“Mask mandates and good ventilation are critically important to curb the spread of more contagious strains of COVID-19, especially during the flu season and winter months as more people socialise indoors,” said Saad Akhtar, a former doctoral student under the supervision of Professor Agus Sasmito at McGill University.
In general, people have been informed via public health guidelines that a two-metre physical distancing must be practiced for people from different households. But it emerges that distancing alone is not enough to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
According to the study, researchers found that when people are unmasked, more than 70 percent of airborne particles pass the two metres threshold within 30 seconds. By contrast, less than 1 per cent of particles cross the two-metre mark if masks are worn.
The research team from McGill University, Universite de Sherbrooke, Texas A&M University, and Northern Illinois University, developed a computer program to accurately simulate coughing dynamics in indoor spaces.
While ventilation, a person’s posture, and mask-wearing impacted the spread of the bio-contaminants significantly. But the impact of age and gender was marginal.
Also, read: Not wearing a mask in public places like restaurants can increase the risk of covid-19 transmission
As far as what spreads airborne viruses from symptomatic individuals, coughing emerged as of the main sources.
“This study advances the understanding of how infectious particles can spread from a source to its surroundings and can help policymakers and governments make informed decisions about guidelines for masks and distancing in indoor settings,” Akhtar concluded.
(With inputs from ANI)