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Japanese researchers show how a mask blocks coronavirus, but not completely.

Image Credit: The Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo via Reuters

Japanese reaearchers led by Professor Kawaoka Yoshihiro at the University of Tokyo found that masks offers protection against coronavirus, but not perfectly. There are ways, where coronavirus particles could still manage to pass through, even if the masks are professional-grade.

Reserchers built a secure chamber to test the masks’ ability to block the coronavirus. In the chamber, two mannequins were placed with a mask on, facing each other. To one of the mannequins, a nebulizer was attached to its head, to simulate coughing and release actual coronavirus particles. The other mannequin was used to mimick natural breathing, having a collection chamber which can collect the virus, if it manages to pass through the mask, and into the airway.

A cotton mask blocked 40% of the coronavirus particles, when compared to no mask. An N95 mask, which is usually used by medical professionals blocked around 90% of the coronavirus particles. When the N95 mask was fitted to the face with tape, researchers found that some virus particles still managed to enter and ended up in the collection chamber. When a mask was attached to the virus spreader, cotton and surgical masks managed to block 50% of coronavirus particles.

The researchers wrote in an article published on Wednesday,

There was a synergistic effect when both the virus receiver and virus spreader wore masks.

Professor Kawaoka Yoshihiro said that there was no research until now, on masks’ effectiveness on blocking viruses using real viruses. He also said that this study is important for people to realize that masks cannot block virus completely, and the risk of infection still remains.

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