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COVID‐19: Facemasks, healthcare policies and risk factors in the crucial initial months of a global pandemic

Ahmed, J; Harker, A; Edirisinghe, M; (2020) COVID‐19: Facemasks, healthcare policies and risk factors in the crucial initial months of a global pandemic. Medical Devices & Sensors , 3 (6) , Article e10120. 10.1002/mds3.10120. Green open access

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Abstract

Previous pandemics have shown that facemask use becomes highly popular in public settings due to fear of the disease spreading. There is, however, a lack of strong scientific evidence that facemasks can significantly reduce the spread of respiratory diseases and as such, most governing policies do not mandate these coverings. There is a stark contrast between the policies and acceptance of facemasks across different geographies. In this work, several data sources have been thoroughly analysed to elucidate how viral diseases are transmitted and spread with particular emphasis on the novel SARS‐CoV‐2 virus which is causing an outbreak of COVID‐19. The different types of facemasks and respirators are also explained, the nature of their design and their efficacy is also examined. Several key factors which have been hypothesised to contribute to the spread of viral infections are elaborated in detail including the effect of temperature and humidity, public transportation systems, population density, socio‐economics and sociology. In this work, data are analysed to explain how the disease is spread, how facemasks function and the differences in the number of initial cases based on several contributing factors to the spread of disease. There are also some dangers in automatically recommending community facemask wearing, such as a reduction in the immune system functionality from the reduced exposure to microbes and the disposal issues which result from the large‐scale use of such materials. The questions of whether facemasks are useful in a community setting or if they divert valuable material away from critical healthcare providers are discussed.

Type: Article
Title: COVID‐19: Facemasks, healthcare policies and risk factors in the crucial initial months of a global pandemic
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/mds3.10120
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/mds3.10120
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Medical Devices & Sensors published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: COVID‐19, facemask, healthcare policy, public health, respiratory disease
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Mechanical Engineering
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124197
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