While several studies have already found that wearing face masks is an effective tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19, a new study comparing nasal and bronchial cells has found evidence that the nose is significantly more likely to spread the virus than the mouth, stressing the importance of proper mask wearing.
The study, which was published last week in Cell magazine, mapped the human respiratory system and traces of the novel coronavirus in the nasal and bronchial airways in an attempt to better understand the modes of infection.
In May, Cell first published a study in which they found that people were more likely to be infected with the novel coronavirus through their noses.
By studying the effects of COVID-19 on reconstituted human airway epithelia (HAE) tissue cells, the researchers found that compared to cells found in the throat and lungs, cells found in the human nose have a significantly higher chance of not only becoming infected with the virus, but also of having the virus replicate within them and spread to the outside world. In these cells, it turns out, the virus also has more entry points to sneak into our respiratory system.
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"Every time we breathe through our noses, we exhale a higher concentration of contaminated air than if we were breathing through our mouths," Dr. Frank McRaiger, an American intensive care physician, explained on Channel 12 News.
He added that what everyday citizens need to do to prevent virus-contaminated air from reaching other people's respiratory systems is simple - put a mask on the nose as well, not just on the mouth.
The results of the study seem to validate the conclusions of another study, done by the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), which said that a mask should be worn from the chin area to the nose area. The CDC also recommends wearing masks in any case where maintaining social distance is not possible.