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Specialists from the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Medical Education Technology Center (METC) have developed a technological solution for simulating a cough, which clearly demonstrates how social distancing and the use of face masks protect against viral infections.

Reinis Balmaks, a doctor at the Children's Clinical University Hospital and Senior Simulation Instructor at the RSU METC goes into detail in the video above.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised the question of what protective equipment to use to protect yourself and others from infection. ‘Viral infections are mostly spread as airborne droplets and there are various ways in which we can protect others by adhering to certain principles of hygiene, such as covering your mouth with a tissue. The recommendation is to cough or sneeze into your elbow, otherwise droplets can get onto your hands and be spread further. Another effective protective measure against infectious diseases is social distancing which means keeping a distance of at least two meters between yourself and other people, as well as to wear a face mask,’ explains Reinis Balmaks.

‘We have developed a cough simulator at the METC taking into account calculations by specialists from the RSU Department of Physics regarding the physiological properties of coughing, including air flow rate and pressure. By simulating a cough with a protective mask, we see that virtually all fluid particles remain in the mask and do not spread to the surrounding environment. This demonstrates the importance of social distancing and the use of protective masks to both the general public and medical professionals. It has to be said, however, that using a protective mask protects people around you, but does not protect the wearer against viral infections,’ emphasises Balmaks. He adds that it is currently mandatory for both patients and medical staff to wear protective surgical masks in all medical institutions in Latvia. These precautions have been taken to prevent medical facilities from becoming sites of viral transmission and to protect both physicians and critically ill patients for whom contracting COVID-19 might be fatal.

About the RSU Medical Education Technology Centre

The RSU METC implements simulation-based medical education, provides students with a study base and physicians with professional development. The centre also addresses the general public on current health issues. It is the most modern medical education center in the Baltic States where students can get the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to work with patients performing everything from simple manipulations to complex surgeries, including childbirth with the help of more than 20 mannequins and simulators.