Face masks can reduce the risk of spreading large COVID-19 droplets by up to 99.9 per cent while speaking or coughing, a new study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science claims.
The study was part of a lab experiment done using mechanical mannequins and human subjects.
Explaining the effect of the mask, the report said people are exposed to 10,000 times more such COVID-19 droplets while talking to each other or coughing than if they are wearing masks.
The mask can protect people from large coronavirus droplets even if they are standing only 50cm away from COVID-19 infected person, the study said.
Experts say large droplets of COVID-19 are the main driver of virus transmission, while small ones may not necessarily reach another person due to their reduced size.
The study was focussed around droplets that more than 170 microns, two-four times wider than a human hair. It said intermediate size droplets can behave either way.
"There is no more doubt whatsoever that face masks can dramatically reduce the dispersion of potentially virus-laden droplets," news agency AFP quoted senior author Ignazio Maria Viola as saying.
Also, if you think face shields may work as a replacement for the mask, they may not. According to a new study published in the journal Physics of Fluids, face shields alone are not highly effective to prevent COVID-19 infection without the use of masks.
Scientists, including few from Fukuoka University, Japan, said sneezes produce a fluid phenomenon known as vortex rings. These vortex rings can capture microscopic particles such as droplets carrying the coronavirus and pass through the face shields plastic barrier.
Notably, wearing face masks is mandatory in all public places across India and other parts of the word. States also impose a heavy penalty, ranging from Rs 500-Rs 2,000, for not wearing face masks.