Q. Will COVID-19 infection spread when someone sneezes while wearing a mask?

Answered by
Dr. Shubadeep Debabrata Sinha
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 23, 2020

Hello doctor,

Is someone wearing a mask and sniffing turning back where a person without a mask is present at 1 or 2 feet distance transfer any infection? Can you get the virus from them? How do hugs work if one adult has a mask and the other adult does not? How far should they be from each other? Do stores get contaminated with the virus at 25% when they have over 200 people or less and with large air filters?



Welcome to

There are possible risks of transmission when you are out in the open. There are claims and counter claims to that with 100s of studies and publications to that effect. The common finding in all these studies is that wearing masks, especially with standardized filtration (e.g., N95, N99, etc.), protects from virus transmission.

Also, most importantly, you must maintain a few of the following measures.

I. Lifestyle - Washing hands regularly, bathing with soap and shampoo after a prolonged visit outside, aerobic exercises, balanced diet (higher proteins, vegetables, fruits), steam inhalation, and warm water gargles twice daily (it has been reported to prevent the growth of virus in the upper respiratory tract).

II. Supplements:-

1. Tablet Vitamin C (500 mg) one tablet twice daily for 15 days.

2. Tablet Zinc acetate 50 mg one tablet twice daily for 15 days. There are combinations of 1 and 2 available.

3. Capsule Vitamin D3 (1 capsule=60,000 IU) one capsule once a week for four weeks.

4. Capsule Saccharomyces Boulardi 250 mg one capsule twice daily for seven days (liquid preparations are also available).

III. Home evaluations:-

1. Body temperature - please keep checking your body temperature once daily (digital thermometer based) and report to a local doctor if you have any fever (> 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit equivalent to 37.5 degrees centigrade).

2. SPO2 levels - If you have a portable, digital pulse oximeter at home, you could keep checking SPO2 levels. If it falls to < 94 %, you must report to the local doctor. Combined with fever, low SPO2 levels are indicators for tracking COVID-19 infection in this period.

3. Other Symptoms - loss of taste, smell, and appetite along with/without respiratory symptoms like stuffy nose, cough, breathlessness, and with or without fever.

Please revert further in case you have further queries.

Thank you doctor,

If someone inside a house does sniffs at me and I have a mask on, will it cause a problem?



Welcome back to

Sneezing (I am assuming it is sneezing, not sniffing) or coughing by a COVID-19 infected person (especially in the infective phase), whether from back or front, could expose the other person, with/without a mask to the infection. To cut down infection completely, not only the coughing/sneezing person must also cover his mouth and nose with a mask preferably but also with the other person (receiving the cough or sneeze). Therefore, both you and the sneezing person must have a mask on. If one of you does not have a mask or if the other person sneezing is infected and does not have the mask, the other person is at risk of getting an infection.

If you are mean sniffing, there is no data available on the transmission of the virus in such a case, but you are less likely to get infected if you have a mask on. But as stated earlier, you could take adequate precautions, as mentioned above, to prevent and ward off potential infections.

Ideally, one should be distant from each other by about 2 meters approximately, 6 feet or more, to be at a safe distance, as per available data.

In stores, 200 or more people is a large number in an average-sized store. The distance should ideally be about 2 meters between individuals.

All items bought from stores should be sanitized externally before taking inside the home or keep (preferably in the sun) outside for three to four days continuously to reduce the viruses on the surface and reduce transmission.

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