Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Airborne SARS-CoV-2 and the Use of Masks for Protection against Its Spread in Wuhan, China

Version 1 : Received: 28 May 2020 / Approved: 29 May 2020 / Online: 29 May 2020 (03:41:50 CEST)

How to cite: Hu, J.; Lei, C.; Chen, Z.; Liu, W.; Hu, X.; Pei, R.; Su, Z.; Deng, F.; Huang, Y.; Sun, X.; Cao, J.; Guan, W. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 and the Use of Masks for Protection against Its Spread in Wuhan, China. Preprints 2020, 2020050464 Hu, J.; Lei, C.; Chen, Z.; Liu, W.; Hu, X.; Pei, R.; Su, Z.; Deng, F.; Huang, Y.; Sun, X.; Cao, J.; Guan, W. Airborne SARS-CoV-2 and the Use of Masks for Protection against Its Spread in Wuhan, China. Preprints 2020, 2020050464

Abstract

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused a global public health crisis. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 by contact is widely accepted, but the relative importance of aerosol transmission for the spread of COVID-19 is controversial. Here we characterize the distribution of SARA-CoV-2 in 123 aerosol samples, 63 masks, and 30 surface samples collected at various locations in Wuhan, China. The positive percentages of viral RNA included 21% of the aerosol samples from an intensive care unit and 39% of the masks from patients with a range of conditions. A viable virus was isolated from the surgical mask of one critically ill patient while all viral RNA positive aerosol samples were cultured negative. The SARS-CoV-2 detected in masks from patients, ambient air, and respirators from health workers compose a chain of emission, transport, and recipient of the virus. Our results indicate that masks are effective in protecting against the spread of viruses, and it is strongly recommended that people throughout the world wear masks to break the chain of virus transmission and thus protect themselves and others from SARS-CoV-2.

Subject Areas

SARS-CoV-2; Airborne; Mask

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