New Delhi: Indians are well aware by now that face masks are important to wear at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. As new, more contagious mutations of COVID-19 have hit India, many Indians are now switching to the sturdier face masks and ditching their cloth mask.Also Read - Is India Heading Towards 4th Wave With Detection of BA.4, BA.5? Here's What Maharashtra Health Minister Predicts

Now, a team of researchers has found that well-fitting, three-layered cloth masks can be as effective at reducing the transmission of Covid-19 as surgical masks. Also Read - This Country Extends Work From Home Order As COVID Cases Continue to Rise, Strict Curbs Imposed | Key Points

The team from the Universities of Bristol and Surrey found that under ideal conditions and dependent on the fit, three-layered cloth masks can perform similarly to surgical masks for filtering droplets — with both reducing exposures by around 50 to 75 percent. Also Read - This Country Bans Flight To India, 15 Other Nations Over Covid Resurgence. Full List Inside

For example, if an infected person and a healthy individual are both wearing masks, scientists believe this could result in up to 94 percent less exposure, showed the findings published in the journal Physics of Fluids.

“While wearing a simple and relatively inexpensive cloth face mask cannot eliminate the risk of contracting Covid-19, measurements and our theoretical model suggests they are highly effective in reducing transmission,” Richard Sear from the University of Surrey, said.

“We hope that our work inspires mask designs to be optimised in the future and we hope it helps to remind people of the importance of continuing to wear masks while Covid-19 remains present in the community,” he added.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, 139 countries mandated the use of face coverings in public spaces such as supermarkets and public transports. The World Health Organization also advises the use of face coverings and offers guidance on their effective features. Face coverings suppress the onward transmission of Covid-19 through exhalation and protect the wearer on inhalation.

To better understand, the team looked at how liquid droplets are captured and filtered out in cloth masks by reviewing and modelling filtration processes, including inertial impaction.

Inertial impaction does not filter as a sieve or colander does — it works by forcing the air in your breath to twist and turn inside the mask so much that the droplets can’t follow the path of the air. Instead, the droplets crash into fibres inside the mask to prevent inhalation, the team explained.

(With inputs from IANS)