Modeling by a Japanese supercomputer has shown that masks made of non-woven fabric work best in blocking virus-carrying respiratory droplets, while other types of masks are also effective, according to NIKKEI Asian Review.
The Japanese supercomputer Fugaku, modeled three types of masks – cotton, polyester and non-woven fabric masks – for gauging their performance in blocking droplets from cough. And the results announced by the government-backed Riken institute reveal that all three types of masks can prevent more than 80 percent of droplets, with the non-woven masks performing the best in containing the spread of droplets from a cough.
The results can be helpful for studies aimed at finding out whether these types of masks can be useful in slowing the spread of the coronavirus, the researchers noted.
"It's important to wear a mask, even a less-effective cloth one," Makoto Tsubokura, team leader at Riken's Center for Computational Science suggested, adding that the most dangerous thing is not wearing a mask even though the weather is hot.
According to the computer's modeling results, the non-woven masks did allow over 10 percent of droplets measuring 20 microns or less in diameter to escape through gaps between the fabric and the face, while the polyester and cotton masks allowed up to 40 percent of these droplets to pass through due to the fact that the spaces between their fibers are wider than that of non-woven fabric.
In another simulative study, Fugaku also modeled the risk of the virus spreading across a 14,000-square-meter multipurpose auditorium with a seating capacity of 2,000 people in Japan's Kawasaki. The results revealed if visitors all wear masks and sit separately, the risk of the virus' spread is little.
"I think restrictions should gradually be loosened if we cut audience numbers by half, make sure everyone wears a mask and watch for outbreak of clusters," Tsubokura suggested.