Scientists at Uuniversity College London discovered that even for the one percent of aerosol transmission that can escape the masks, they’re deemed to “travel much more slowly”. Professor Laurence Lovat and his team designed realistic androids – Virtual Human Exhalation Replicators – to assess the impact of wearing masks.
The robot-like machines contain an acoustic rig that can replicate breathing, sounds, and speech.
“We placed the engineering rig inside of the androids to replicate a real head,” explained Professor Lovat.
“We can change the frequency to make it speak and produce different types of droplets.”
Utilising laser technology, the UCL scientists measured how far and how fast the aerosol droplets moved.
Taking advantage of computer models, the researchers were then able to model how the aerosol droplets would move in enclosed spaces.
In the next stage of the study, the androids were fitted with disposable surgical marks and reusable, snood-style “Virustatic Shield” face coverings.
Professor Lovat stated: “Across all the tests: singing, breathing and speaking, these results show face masks provide significant and robust levels of safety against COVID-19 transmission.”
His findings demonstrated that face masks “rapidly” reduces the spread of aerosol droplets – a way for the disease to infect other people.
Based on his research, Professor Lovat said: “I believe the UK Government should support the re-opening of theatres and live entertainment.”
The professor added that singing should be allowed to return in places of worship.
How does the virus spread?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there were “several ways” Covid can spread from one person to another.
“The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe,” stated the WHO.
The WHO do recommend wearing face masks when you can’t physically distance from someone, for example, or when you’re in an enclosed space.
Wearing a face mask that covers your face and nose prevents you from spreading aerosol droplets.
In the same way, other people wearing a face mask can’t transmit their aerosol droplets to you.
Thus, transmission can greatly be reduced if everybody follows government guidance to wear a face mask in enclosed spaces, such as theatres.
It comes as Andrew Lloyd Webber said he would risk arrest by reopening his theatres on June 21, “come hell or high water”.
Paul Hope, founder of Virustatic Shield, said: “We are delighted by the results of Professor Lovat’s scientific research. The outcomes are very encouraging and we look forward to audiences being allowed back to theatres.”