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PPE vending machine to be installed into Swan Walk shopping centre Horsham.

A business near Horsham is installing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) vending machine in Swan Walk shopping centre.

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Machine installed into Swan Walk Shopping  Centre, Horsham - 07-07-2020
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Machine installed into Festival Place Shopping  Centre, Basingstoke. - 23-07-2020
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21 May 2020 at 7:15am

Coronavirus: Face masks could reduce spread of person's breath by 90%, new research finds


Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have tested several types of masks. 

Wearing any face mask reduces the distance travelled by a person's breath by more than 90 per cent and could prove vital in stopping the spread of Coronavirus, new research has shown.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have tested several types of masks, including home-made face coverings, and found all offered some form of protection.

But the researchers discovered that dangerous particles still escape into the air unless any coverings are fitted properly and medical-grade.

People in England are being advised to wear masks on public transport, but the Government has so far stopped short of introduced any compulsory measures on face coverings.

The public health advice in Wales is that they may provide a marginal benefit to others around the mask wearer. Scotland's advice is that they provide "limited" benefits, while face masks are recommended in Northern Ireland.

France has introduced €135 fines to anyone not wearing face coverings on the Metro lines and buses. Similar measures are being enforced in New York and other European countries.

The London Mayor London Sadiq Khan has said the UK Government should follow suit and enforce stricter laws on face masks. 

Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, from the University of Edinburgh, co-ordinated the research.

He said: “I have generally been impressed by the effectiveness of all the face coverings we tested.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said last week that face coverings "don't really have much of an impact" in protecting the wearer, but they can "provide an incremental mitigation" of the risk to other people.

Scientists in Edinburgh used computer technology to test seven types of masks, which allowed them to measure the distance and direction travelled by air when a person breathes or coughs.

Even face covering without an outlet valve reduced the distance by at least 90 per cent.

Face mask rules: Where are they compulsory across the UK?

Commuters and other travellers could be fined if caught without a mask or face covering while using public transport across England. 

Here’s what you need to know about the rules, which started on Monday, June 15.

What is the rule around face masks?

People are now required to wear masks or face coverings when using tubes, buses, trains and other modes of public transport in England.

Ride-sharing services, such as Uber, are also encouraging the use of face masks.

Though there has been some discussion surrounding the effectiveness of non-surgical masks, it is generally believed that face coverings do offer some protection from coronavirus, mostly by preventing asymptomatic carriers from inadvertently passing on the virus through droplets. 

“The evidence suggests that wearing face coverings offers some, albeit limited, protection, against the spread of the virus”, said transport secretary Grant Schapps, at a conference earlier this month. 

The rule has been introduced due to concerns about an inability to socially distance on public transport, with many commuters forced to use public transport to get to work.

It’s also hoped the measure will act as a physical reminder that the virus is still present and circulating, encouraging good hygiene practices like handwashing. 

The government announced that under new conditions of carriage, fines may be levied for anyone seen to be flouting the face covering rule.

Those not wearing a mask or face covering will be asked to wear one, or could be refused access to public transport and fined £100.

Some stations are handing out free disposable masks at stations, while announcements and billboards remind travellers of the new rules in force. 

Over 3,000 extra staff, including police, have reportedly been deployed at stations to make sure people comply with the new rules.

However, there are some questions about how far the rule can be policed, given the scale of the transport network. Earlier this month, Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy said he expects passengers to comply with the rule:

“I am not expecting a huge upsurge in railway staff having to police this,” he said. “I am expecting sensible passengers to do their duty and look after themselves and others.”

Are face masks compulsory anywhere else?

Currently in England, face masks are only compulsory on public transport. The government is currently encouraging the use of face masks in other enclosed spaces where social distancing may be difficult, such as shops. 

In Scotland, people are being advised to wear masks or face coverings on public transport and other enclosed public spaces, but Nicola Sturgeon has said she is considering making this compulsory. 

In Northern Ireland, masks and face coverings are encouraged “in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible”, while in Wales it is currently a matter of personal choice.

The differing advice across the UK means that passengers not wearing a mask on the train in Wales or Scotland would have to don a mask when crossing the border into England.

Shoppers could be made to wear face masks and wash their hands regularly in order to stop the spread of Covid-19 and items touched by customers may need to be quarantined, scientists say.
PUBLISHED: 12:01, 27 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:12, 27 May 2020

Shoppers could be made to wear face masks and wash their hands regularly in order to stop the spread of Covid-19, scientists say.

Microbiologist Professor Bill Keevil, University of Southampton, said shop surfaces can harbour germs for days. 

Cleanliness will be crucial for shops to be able to remain open without putting customers' lives at risk, he suggested.

Thousands of shops, department stores and shopping centres can open from June 15 under strict Government rules,  and many are expected to provide cleaning stations at the entrance and around the store.

Professor Keevil said businesses should consider putting clothing garments 'in quarantine' if somebody touches them in case the virus can survive on fabrics. 

Stephen Baker, and infectious disease professor at University of Cambridge, said businesses may make it the rule that customers have to wear a face mask to enter.

Such measures, as well as closed changing rooms and toilets, will turn the shopping experience on its head.

Professor Keevil, who heads the Microbiology Group at University of Southampton and is a professor of environmental healthcare, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: 'They (superbug bacteria and viruses) all can survive days on a touch surface, that may surprise people.

'That's why it's so important to wash hands and also regularly clean all touch surfaces.

'In terms of shops, when you go into a shop you're obviously careful about trolley handles, door handles, this kind of stuff, they should certainly be kept regularly clean.'

How long the virus can survive on surfaces depends on the material as well as the environment in the shop.

A study by US officials published in the New England Medical Journal detected the virus on plastic for up to three days.

But another study from China, published in The Lancet, said the virus could last on plastic for up to seven days after being left there.

Both teams of researchers had left the virus particles at room temperature, which could represent thousands of items in a store - including coat hangers. 

The same differences were found for stainless steel, which may include door handles, rails and jewellery.

No viable virus could be found on printing paper or tissue paper after three hours. However, the virus could be detected on paper money for up to four days. 

Professor Keevil said: 'The issue is now coming down to things like clothes, fabrics. Should people touch them?

'If people have washed their hands properly, you might argue that there shouldn't be a transmission risk onto the fabrics.

'But people are now suggesting if you try on a garment and you don't want it, that garment should be put into quarantine for several days before it's then being put back onto the shelves.'

Professor Keevil said there was a lack of evidence into how long viruses stayed on fabrics once touched.

The same study published in the Lancet said no viable particles of SARS-CoV-2 was found that viable virus couldn't be recovered from cloth after two days.

But a breakdown of materials like polyester, cotton or wool have not been studied.

A person can become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, when they touch their face after touching a contaminated surface.

Some scientists say face masks can prevent this because the barrier restricts how often a person touches their face. 

The Government has suggested wearing a face covering of some kind in public when social distancing is difficult, but it is not the law.

On the issue of face masks, Professor Baker, from the Department of Medicine at Cambridge, said: 'The Government might bring it in, but also then clothes shops... or places with confined areas may actually stipulate that to enter the premises you have to wear a face mask. 

'It might just be a mechanism of reassuring people when they go into shops that they are not at risk.' 

The Government has provided guidelines for non-essential retailers so they could safely reopen from June 15, as well as car dealerships and open markets from June 1.

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Infected Tube passenger showers Coronavirus droplets over another person simply by TALKING to them in shocking simulation 
Published: 26/05 Mail online 
  • People talking on the tube can literally cover other passengers with Coronavirus

  • Researchers say talking can spread small droplets of breath short distances

  • They say wearing a face mask can stop this from happening and slow the spread 

A person infected with Coronavirus can pass it on just by talking to someone in a closed environment such as a tube train or small office, simulations reveal.

In a simulation of Tube travel, produced by software firm MSC, one infected person can be seen literally coating other passengers with COVID-19 - just by talking. 

Researchers found that someone chatting to a friend on the tube can 'coat others' with the deadly Coronavirus - even if they don't sneeze or cough. 

The new model looking at ways droplets from breath spread in enclosed spaces comes as Britain prepares to return to work, school and a level of normality after lockdown. 

Dr Julian Tang, an expert in respiratory conditions, from the University of Leicester, told BBC News that droplets produced by talking don't travel as far as they do from a sneeze or a cough - which can travel up to 22ft - but researchers say it is still dangerous enough to pass on the virus. 

'But they can travel far enough to affect your friend sitting opposite you, or someone who's chatting to you,' he said.

'When you're talking to a colleague you don't touch them, you don't spit on them, most of the interaction is by voice and breathing.'  

In the case of Coronavirus, which can be passed on through surface transmission, this causes a bigger problem for London Underground travellers - as the droplets from conversations won't just sit on other passengers - but also on seats, buttons and handles.   

MSC Software, who created the Tube simulation, says wearing a mask is essential for slowing the spread of the deadly virus.

They found many droplets are expelled from the mouth and nose within a minute of someone talking and they proceed to coat others nearby.  

This can be mitigated by wearing a face mask, which blocks the majority of front facing droplets as people talk, breathe and even cough or sneeze, say researchers.  

According to the Open University, the fact the virus can spread and remain on surfaces for several days is a major cause for concern.

It said that in office kitchens, as an example, simply washing the dishes after someone with the virus has used a cup, could lead to infection. 

A recent study by Canadian researchers found that even a simple cloth mask can block up to 99 per cent of infectious particles, adding to evidence for the use of masks in public. 

Researchers and government officials say washing hands, not touching faces and practising safe distancing from others are vital parts of returning to work. 

Many schools, offices and shops are demanding face masks, hand washing, implementing distance markers and doing regular deep cleans.

While keeping our distance is the most important factor, researchers say limiting time around someone infected can also reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

The World Health Organization says if you can't remain 6ft apart, you should limit time spent with colleagues in an enclosed space to 15 minutes.

A study by the University of Oregon, into the spread of the virus in cafes and restaurants, found ventilation plays a major role.

They found that if someone with COVID-19 coughs while sitting at a corner table the 6ft rule goes out the window as the virus droplets can spread even further.

Smaller droplets are caught in a current of air coming from air conditioning units and spread around the room - a similar thing could happen in schools and offices.

Researchers say it doesn't prove the virus can be transmitted in that way or make anyone ill if it did - just that the droplets of breath can be blown across the room.

It's only the smaller breath droplets being spread in this fashion - or spreading further than 6ft - so it may not be a large enough dose to lead to infection.

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg from the Oregon team said the virus 'can be spread further than people might realise'.

'It's really impossible to completely eliminate risk,' Van Den Wymelenberg told the BBC, 'but what we showed was a concept for how you could reduce transmission.'

'The good news is that there are things you can do to make safer spaces.'

He said bringing in fresh air through windows was better than air conditioning.  

Dr Tang said something as simple as close conversations in an office could pass on the virus, regardless of air conditioning or airflow from outside.

'If you can smell your friend's breath - the garlic or curry or alcohol - you're inhaling what they're breathing out,' he told the BBC.

'And if you're inhaling enough of that air to smell it, then you're close enough to inhale any virus that's also carried in the air with it.'