COVID-19 infection avoidance strategy simplified

Letters to the Editor

COVID-19 infection avoidance strategy simplified

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I have some thoughts on the effectiveness of masks in certain cases.

First thought, a number of commercial face masks have outflow valves to make it easier to exhale. If you are using such a mask and you do not have COVID-19 that's good. However, if you have COVID-19 and are exhaling tiny droplets with the virus, that's very, very bad, because they are going, unimpeded, out through the valve. So if there is even a tiny suspicion that you may have the virus, it might be far better to use a mask without the exhalation valve, or even a close-fitting cloth mask.

Generally, masks help, but I wonder about our tear ducts. Ever notice that when your eyes are irritated and tears start flowing, they end up in your nose, having passed down through your tear ducts, possibly washing viral particles down your nose, not good. The use of eye protection, such as used in dusty environments, even because they are ventilated from the bottom should reduce your chances of catching the virus even more, because the viral particles would have to float upwards through the vent openings highly unlikely.

So, a good, relatively cheap sort of protection against the virus would be the combination of a non-valved mask and cheap safety glasses for dusty areas. The ultimate in protection (or against spreading the virus) would be a system where slightly pressurised filtered air flows over your face, and the outflow air is also filtered. Something battery-powered like this is sold for welders and people dealing with hazardous solvents, etc, but does not have the exhalation filter, but this could be added by the user if he is possibly infected.


Howard Chin

Member, Jamaica Institution of Engineers

Registered Professional Engineer

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