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Respiratory virus shedding in exhaled breath and efficacy of face masks

Nancy H L Leung, Daniel K W Chu, Eunice Y C Shiu, Kwok-Hung Chan, James J McDevitt, Benien J P Hau, Hui-Ling Yen, Yuguo Li, Dennis K M Ip, J S Malik Peiris, Wing-Hong Seto, Gabriel M Leung, Donald K Milton, Benjamin J Cowling
Nature Medicine 2020 April 3
32371934
We identified seasonal human coronaviruses, influenza viruses and rhinoviruses in exhaled breath and coughs of children and adults with acute respiratory illness. Surgical face masks significantly reduced detection of influenza virus RNA in respiratory droplets and coronavirus RNA in aerosols, with a trend toward reduced detection of coronavirus RNA in respiratory droplets. Our results indicate that surgical face masks could prevent transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals.

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