Despite a decline in new Covid-19 diseases in Thailand, authorities continue to insist that face masks must be worn, especially in public restrooms and elevators
People are being warned not to remove masks while in public toilets and enclosed areas such as elevators after a study showed that people can easily contract the new coronavirus by using these facilities, the Bangkok Post reported.
A study conducted by a team of scientists led by Chulabhorn Research Institute researcher Kwanravi Sirikanchan has found that using public toilets can increase the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus through airborne transmission.
The scientific article, published in the Journal of Water and Health, examines the effects of protective masks and ventilation on the risk of respiratory transmission of Covid-19 in public toilets. It examines two scenarios of a person visiting a public restroom after being infected with Covid-19. In one, neither subject wore a face mask; in the other, both wore N95 or surgical masks.
The study found that if no face masks were worn, the risk of infection was 10%, but the risk increased to almost 100% if the Covid-19-infected person coughed or sneezed in the bathroom. However, if both wore masks, the risk was only 0.01%. According to the study, a 10-minute wait can also reduce the risk of infection, but face masks offer the best protection.
Thammanitchpol Denpetkul, a professor in Mahidol University’s Department of Tropical Medicine, said the virus can be transmitted through droplets the size of PM2.5 dust particles. The professor said respirators such as N95, KN95, KF94, and FFP2 provide the most effective protection when using public restrooms, while surgical masks are the second-best option.
“Some cloth masks may not be good enough to protect against the virus … but if someone uses an N95 mask and wears it correctly, the risk is one in 100,000,” Thammanitchpol noted.
Meanwhile, the trend of new daily Covid-19 infections in Thailand is definitely going down. Despite warnings from some health authorities in Thailand that the number of infections is rising (one estimate is as high as 100,000 infections per day), the trend has declined over the past week.
The current spike peaked on April 1, when 28,029 new cases of infection were reported, but has been on a downward trajectory ever since. Today, 18’892 new cases of Covid-19 infection have been reported in Thailand, but there is still a rising trend of deaths. For the seventh day in a row, the number of deaths exceeded 100.
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