Coronavirus: could breathing heavily when it is very hot spread the virus more easily?

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 18 September 2020 at 15h07
As France is hit by a heatwave, some people warn against breathing too heavily as it could spread coronavirus more easily. Let us explain.

Rather incredible for mid-September, a heat peak is expected for Monday September 14 and Tuesday 15, 2020 in France. Luckily, these high temperatures are not said to last too long. But these hot days are going to be difficult to bear, especially with a face cover on.

After a few minutes public transit, you are already sweaty behind your mask. But speaking of that, can perspiration spread Covid-19 more easily? Nothing is certain, but sweating is not said to be a virus contagion vector.

For sweat, I do not know if a study has been carried out, but we do not see how it could be possible, because the virus is airborne” inter-federal spokesperson Yves Val Laethem told RTL Luxembourg. “As far as I know, perspiration has been the vector of no virus, even Ebola, dengue, or even flu” he added. Careful though, if your mask happens to slide off your face and you want to put it back on your nose, do not forget it is not recommended to touch it with your hands.

Yet, some specialists warn against a too-heavy breathing we tend to do when it is hot. Therefore, breathing more heavily with or without a face cover could spread the virus more easily because of the high number of droplets thrown by the mouth and nose.

On one hand, by breathing more heavily, you create humidity in the mask that then looses its filtering capacity and becomes less useful. On the other hand, “when you inhale hard, you see your mask gets in your mouth and you feel uncomfortable. The risk of lacking oxygen increases and you also feel tempted to remove your mask or lift it to breathe more easily” hygienist and infectiology doctor Stéphane Gayet from Strasbourg university hospital told Le Parisien.

For the record, even if it is scorching hot, it is highly not recommended to dampen your mask. A dampened mask is no longer useful. Yet, you are encouraged to change your face cover more regularly than every 4 hours. And to avoid dampening your mask because of a too-heavy breathing, the Institut Canadien de recherche Robert-Sauvé in health and safety at work has shared a piece of advice: “breathe through your nose (mouth closed) when wearing a mask” as much as possible for this technique “generates less heat and humidity that could be kept in the mask”.

Practical information

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