Islamabad         -       Face coverings may be compulsory in more places now than ever — but how much protection do they really afford to people around you? ‘A face covering should help minimize the spread of micro-organisms (including the Covid-19 virus) by the wearer,’ says Val Edwards-Jones, an emeritus professor of medical microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. ‘During coughing, talking or sneezing, tiny droplets that may contain the virus are expelled from the mouth and will be absorbed into the mask fabric, rather than being transmitted to others.’

But which is the best design to choose? ‘The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised wearing triple-layer face coverings,’ says Professor Edwards-Jones. ‘But not all masks conform to WHO recommendations.’ We asked Professor Edwards-Jones, who has developed her own range of masks (, to test various types, ranging from cheap, disposable ones to more fashionable versions, to see the extent to which they prevented droplets from getting into the air.