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Masks, Good Ventilation Stop Covid-19 Spread Better Than Social Distancing, Finds Study

Published On Apr 07, 2021 12:00 AM By Yamini Sharma

As per a modelling study published in the journal Physics of Fluids, masks and a good ventilation system are more important than social distancing for stopping the airborne spread of Covid-19 inside a room. For the research, the researchers created a computer classroom model with a teacher as well as a few students. After modelling airflow as well as transmission of the disease, the airborne-driven transmission risk was calculated by the researchers. The classroom model was similar to a smaller-size classroom where the students were masked. A masked teacher was also put at the front of the classroom.

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Michael Kinzel, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida in the US said that the research is quite significant as it provides guidance on how everyone is understanding the concept of safety in indoor environments. He furthermore shared that as per the results of the study, aerosol transmission routes do not display a requirement for six feet social distancing when masks are mandatory.

According to the researchers, the study highlights that in case of masks, transmission probability does not decline with increased physical distancing, which emphasises how mask mandates may be vital to increasing capacity in schools along with other places. 

It must be noted that the team examined the classroom using two scenarios, a ventilated classroom and an unventilated one and with Wells-Riley and Computational Fluid Dynamics models. It was found that masks were beneficial in preventing direct exposure of aerosols as they provided a weak puff of warm air that caused aerosols to move vertically, thereby stopping from reaching adjacent students.

Moreover, the researchers also noticed that a ventilation system, in combination with a good air filter minimized the risk of coronavirus infection by 40% to 50% in comparison to a classroom with no ventilation system. 

The results of the research match with the CDC, which emphasizes that good ventilation systems and mask usage are the most important for preventing novel coronavirus transmission rather than social distancing. 

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Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.

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