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French study shows positive effects of proper mask-wearing

There is a “very limited risk” of spreading coronavirus in indoor venues such as concert halls when all attendees are wearing tight-fitting face masks, according to a new study by French software company Dassault Systèmes.

The CAD specialist is working with the Paris Philharmonic to prepare the the venue for reopening when restrictions are lifted. By creating a 3D model of the Philharmonie’s main concert hall, the 2,400-seat Grande Salle Pierre Boulez, Dassault Systèmes was able to simulate the flow of air around a seated concertgoer in three different scenarios: with no face covering, wearing a loose-fitting face mask, and wearing a properly fitted face mask.

As can be seen in the video above, the infected concertgoer poses the greatest risk to his neighbours sans masque, as expected. With a loose mask (masque lâche), the transmission of infected particles is reduced; with a fitted mask (masque ajusté) the spread of the virus is prevented even further.

While it should be noted that the Grande Salle Pierre Boulez has a sophisticated ventilation system that limits the lateral movement of air, directing it behind the audience and orchestra, the study is nonetheless proof that masks, when worn correctly, play a “major role in reducing the volume of particles emitted into the air, as well as in the speed of the spread”, according to Dassault Systèmes.

The combination of proper mask wearing with a fresh-air supply gives the concert hall a similar profile to an outdoor space

The experiment additionally found that the combination of proper mask wearing with a fresh-air supply built in to every seat gives the concert hall a similar profile to that of an outdoor space, “with a very limited risk of spread from one side [of the venue] to the other”, despite being completely enclosed.

“Our collaboration with the Philharmonie de Paris is part of our daily efforts to help companies simulate, visualise and analyse existing conditions, assess the effect of hypothetical scenarios, and identify solutions allowing to reopen and operate safely,” comments Dassault Systèmes’ Florence Verzelen.

“At a time when the real world is doing everything it can to get out of confinement, virtual worlds make it possible to carry out experiments that reveal many unknowns,” Verzelen adds.

The study also simulated airflow at the entrance to the venue, finding that the existing preventative measures – mask wearing and social distancing – are sufficient outside the Grande Salle itself.

“The safety of the public, our artists and our staff is non-negotiable. This is why we have decided to partner with Dassault Systèmes,” adds Laurent Bayle, director of the Paris Philharmonic. “Thanks to their state-of-the-art simulation technology, we are ready to reopen our concert hall under the best possible conditions.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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