News National Which mask? One layer is OK, two layers are better but three layers are ideal
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Which mask? One layer is OK, two layers are better but three layers are ideal

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When you try to determine which home-made masks work best against the coronavirus, remember the George Orwell classic Animal Farm.

More legs (or layers) are better than fewer.

The same theory goes with making a mask to protect yourself against the coronavirus.

One layer is OK, two layers are good but three layers are even better, research published in the scientific journal Thorax on Friday says.

There has been worldwide shortages in personal protective equipment during the pandemic, leading to health officials and leaders – including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews – to encourage home-made masks.

Since midnight on Wednesday, Melburnians aged over 12 have been required to wear masks or face coverings when they leave their house for one of just four reasons permitted during the six-week lockdown.

Even the statues in Melbourne aren’t risking a $200 fine. Photo: AAP

Masks prevent people from inhaling infectious droplets which are generated during coughing, sneezing or speaking.

A team of Australian researchers used a high-speed camera to film the spread of airborne droplets of someone while wearing each mask type.

It was revealed the three-ply surgical face mask was the most effective at reducing airborne droplet dispersal, although even a single-layer cloth face covering reduced the droplet spread from speaking.

But a double layer covering was better than a single layer in reducing the droplet spread from coughing and sneezing, the recording showed.

However, there are other factors which contribute to the effectiveness of face masks – including the type of material, design and fit, as well as the frequency of washing.

Nevertheless, based on their observations, a home-made cloth mask with two layers is preferable to a single-layer mask

“Guidelines on home-made cloth masks should stipulate multiple layers,” the researchers suggested.

“There is a need for more evidence to inform safer cloth mask design, and countries should ensure adequate manufacturing or procurement of surgical masks.”