Masks to contain spread of COVID-19 and educating the public

COVID-19 has been spreading at rapid rates around the globe leading to loss of life or in some cases permanent lung damage to the infected. Masks are a very important tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19, along with social distancing. The main reason that inspired me to write this post is the absence of people wearing masks.

People imagine that normal cloth masks don’t help them from contraction the virus, and some, imagine that they are in a safe place with just a few infections that it is not necessary to wear masks. Both these thought process does significant harm in accelerating the spread of the virus as most people show no symptoms even after days of contracting the virus. This outlook can create infections in a community and damage that person or their loved ones. The later thought process is damaging in the perspective that there is no safe place on planet earth immune to this spread and a single infection can spread like wildfire if not contained.

Spread of covid-19 through sneeze or cough source: nytimes.com

Education plays a key role in the changing mindset of the general public. One of the successful places on the planet to contain the spread was the state of Kerala in India. One of the important things that the government and doctors in the state of Kerala did was to educate the general public. This leads the people, the government and the health machinery to work together and unitedly stop the spread. The state is now educating its residents who are coming back from other countries as soon as they land in the state’s airports, making them aware and at ease. Educating people, making them aware, and getting them to work together with the healthcare system is the only way any place in the world could work together to contain the spread.

The video below shows flow visualization using LaVision’s BOS (Background Oriented Schlieren)  system showing the effect of wearing masks.

Researchers have found out that at peak exhalation speeds of 10-30 m/s can generate cloud that can extend up to 27 feet. Scientific study also suggests keeping a gap of at least 4-5 meters while walking in a single line and when slow biking or running use a minimum of 10 meters and for hard biking, at-least 20 meters.

Droplet spreading when running at a speed of 14.4 km/h when (a,b) running behind each other; (c) side-by-side; (d) in staggered arrangement source: http://www.urbanphysics.net/Social%20Distancing%20v20_White_Paper.pdf