A*STAR News

COVID-19 R&D

Why is it important to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Why is it important to wear a mask - COVID-19 Experiment
Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) preparing for the experiment

A*STAR scientists, together with SingHealth doctors from the SGH Department of Infectious Diseases; and the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine; designed an experiment to show the importance of wearing a mask in helping to prevent the spread of viruses.

The experiment showed that when the subject coughed without wearing a mask, respiratory droplets escaped from his mouth. Heavier particles dropped to the ground about 0.1 to 0.4 metres from him, while lighter and smaller particles, about one-tenth the width of a strand of hair, lingered on and floated around for at least a minute. They were carried beyond a one-metre distance within eight seconds.

Why is it important to wear a mask - COVID-19 - Prof Tan Ban Hock
Prof Tan (second from right) viewing the results of the experiment conducted at A*STAR

Why is it important to wear a mask - COVID-19 - withoutmask
This image captured from a high-speed and high-sensitivity camera shows a subject coughing without wearing a mask

Results of the experiment showed that wearing a mask properly can significantly reduce the droplets and aerosols ejected from a person’s nose and mouth.

Prof Tan Ban Hock, Senior Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases at Singapore General Hospital, shared that if a person is sick with a viral infection such as influenza or COVID-19, many of those droplets would contain live virus that could land on another person. Prof Tan added that how far the droplets travel depends on the force with which the droplets were generated, as well as the prevailing environmental conditions.

“When the subject wore a mask properly, little or no droplets were released into the atmosphere when he coughed. The experiment proves that it is important to wear a mask properly to reduce the potential spreading of the virus,” said Dr Anton Sadavoy, Scientist at ASTAR’s IMRE.

Why is it important to wear a mask - COVID-19- withmask
This image shows the subject coughing while wearing a mask securely

During this critical circuit breaker period, leave your home only when absolutely necessary, and put on a mask securely, when you do.

If you are ill but asymptomatic, the mask protects others from you, when you are out and about.

Watch “Why You Should Wear a Mask to Prevent COVID-19”

A*STAR scientists that facilitated the experiment:

  1. Dr Dan Daniel, Scientist, Advanced Characterisation and Instrumentation, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
  2. Dr Anton Sadovoy, Scientist, Soft Materials, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE)
  3. Walter Frank Pintor Ortiz, Lead Engineer, Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)
  4. Chester Seet, Senior Development Engineer, Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC)
  5. Dr Kang Chang Wei, Deputy Department Director, Fluid Dynamics Department, Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC)
Posted in : COVID-19 R&D