Both surgical and cotton masks were found to be ineffective for preventing the dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19. A study conducted at two hospitals in Seoul, South Korea, found that when COVID-19 patients coughed into either type of mask, droplets of virus were released to the environment and external mask surface. A brief research report is published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
During respiratory viral infection, face masks are thought to prevent transmission, leading health care experts to recommend their use during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a shortage of both N95 and surgical masks, which have been shown to prevent the spread of influenza virus, cotton masks have gained interest as a substitute. However, it is not known if surgical or cotton masks worn by patients with COVID-19 prevent contamination of the environment.
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