05:31 GMT28 May 2020
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    The total death toll from COVID-19 in mainland China now stands at 3,329, while the overall number of coronavirus cases in the country is 81,669, according to the health commission. A total of 76,764 people have recovered.

    The School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology has developed an “electrostatic antiviral mask” with a special “air purifier”. Associate Professor Tong Xufeng has shared information about the advantages of the new mask compared to the standard N95 mask.

    He said that viruses can’t survive in the air alone: ​​they spread mainly by attaching themselves to particles. Therefore, the virus first needs to cling to something. The diameter of such particles is usually less than PM 2.5, about 1 micron.

    "The advantage of the new mask is mainly that it can filter out particles with a diameter of less than 1 micrometre. Having absorbed these particles, the mask uses rays and high-voltage fields to kill viral organisms. If you use conventional masks that filter PM 2.5, they don’t filter out particles smaller than 2.5 microns".

    Earlier, when schools closed in Xi'an due to heavy smog, Tong Xufeng’s team produced masks to protect against small particles and dust. And even then they were recognised in the market.

    Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Xi'an Health Department reached out to Tong Xufeng’s team and asked if their masks could be used to combat the virus. Therefore, the scientists decided to create antiviral masks based on the first-generation anti-smog electronic masks.

    "We have increased the radiation power of the original masks. The high voltage created by first-generation electronic masks is more than 3000 volts; we have increased it by another 1000 volts. Usually, ozone appears under high voltage. Its smell is very unpleasant, but our new electronic masks filter out ozone. Moreover, we guarantee that the mask’s high voltage is not harmful for people. We take this very seriously".

    The new masks are expected to enter the market in about two months. Tong Xufeng said that they have already applied to the relevant departments to certify the new antiviral mask and are currently awaiting verification and approval. At the same time, mass production of the masks is being prepared.

    "As soon as the mask is checked by the relevant departments, we will be allowed to start production; and we’ll be able to introduce the product to the market. We plan to launch two types of masks: for ordinary people and for medical personnel fighting the epidemic. We have also improved wearing comfort. Previously we used a traditional mask shape. Now the mask looks like a transparent silicone protective case, mainly to make it smaller and more portable".

    The project is a joint development of the Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology and Yubang Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. The project manager is Associate Professor Tong Xufeng.

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    pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19, China
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