Researchers have found that wearing surgical masks may help to prevent transmission of seasonal coronavirus and influenza virus from symptomatic individuals.
According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine, surgical masks can efficaciously reduce the emission of influenza virus particles into the environment in respiratory droplets.
Surgical masks have the capacity to reduce coronavirus detection and viral copies in large respiratory droplets and in aerosols, according to the study.
The study also stated that surgical face masks could be used by ill people to reduce onward transmission and it can have huge implications for control of COVID-19.
The researchers recruited 246 people with suspected respiratory viral infections to breathe into a machine known as the Gesundheit II to compare the relative amount of virus in exhaled breath with or without a face mask.
The researchers noted that there is no direct evidence of how influenza and coronavirus spread between humans who are in close proximity — whether by direct contact, large respiratory droplets, or through breathing another person’s exhaled breath.
Respiratory viruses can also survive in the environment and potentially spread through indirect contact, the researchers explained.
Larger respiratory droplets, which fall near the source, as well as aerosols of smaller fine particles, can both contain virus and cause short-range transmission, they said.
In addition, aerosols can remain in the air for longer and potentially transmit infection over longer distances, particularly if they are generated at higher concentration or if there is little ventilation.
According to the researchers, measures such as social distancing and handwashing are also important to prevent viral transmission.