They say a picture paints a thousand words, but sometimes having a visual really is the best way to understand something.

Advice surrounding whether to wear a face mask has become increasingly confusing, but one volunteer – Dr Davis from the Sacred Heart Medical Centre in Washington – decided to show us the real story.

In his demo, he placed agar cultures close to his face to show how many respiratory particles transferred while talking, singing, sneezing, and coughing with and without a face mask. The results are clear. Just one sneeze without a mask fills the culture with bacteria colonies that form where the respiratory droplets fell. Coughing has a similar effect, and even singing and talking for one minute caused bacteria transfer. Meanwhile, all the masked cultures remained clean.

And yes, as Dr Davis reminds us, bacteria are not viruses. But it is respiratory droplets such as these that spread the viruses: although no measure by itself will completely prevent the virus,

with this simple experiment, we see just how much liquid comes out of our mouths, even when simply talking – and just how much of this is stopped by wearing a facemask. It’s time to face the truth. Given the spread of coronavirus, isn’t this reason enough to keep a face mask handy?

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