United States government researchers have discovered that putting on two masks is better than putting on one in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus but health officials have not recommended that two masks should be worn by everybody.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported the findings of a laboratory experiment that distanced two artificial heads 6 feet from each other and cross-checked to view how many coronavirus-sized particles released by one were inhaled by the other head.
The researchers discovered that wearing one mask prevented about 40% of the particles advancing toward the head that was inhaling. However, when a cloth mask was worn a surgical mask, around 80% of the particles were blocked.
Dr. John Brooks of the CDC said when both heads were double-masked, over 95% of the particles were blocked.
Brooks said: “The first challenge is to get as many as people as possible masking. And then for those that do mask, to help them get the best benefit out of that mask.”
The research had a lot of limitations: The researchers deployed just one brand of surgical mask and one brand of cloth mask, as such, it remains unclear whether results would remain the same with other products. But it corroborates earlier research that suggests two masks are better than one.
The CDC also said it was updating its guidance in a bid to address putting on two masks. If done properly, a cloth mask that is worn over a surgical mask could tighten the gaps around the edges of the mask which can allow virus particles to enter.