I saw photos from a China and Europe of people wearing full body plastic bags, or just a bag over their head or even large plastic bottle over the head. Is there any evidence, even anecdotal, about effectiveness?

Now people have to spend hours in long lines in grocery stores, in hospital emergency rooms where their risk of getting infected is very high. We need some protection. Washing hands is not enough when all your face and head is covered in other people's saliva droplets.

I understand that we should not wear masks because there is a shortage of them, they do not protect eyes, do not protect from touching face, etc. At the first glance a plastic bag solves all these problems. Today I made an experiment - took a wide brimmed hat and pulled a small transparent trash bag over it. I can wear it quite comfortably - the bag hangs freely and extends down just below my shoulders, some fresh air is coming from below, there is no fogging. Plastic does not touch my face (except during strong wind), so there is no discomfort. If I feel an urge to touch my face I can do it through the plastic. All droplets from peoples coughs and sneezes should remain on outer surface. Aerosol, of course, can drift upward with air, but I heard that coronavirus is very unlikely to be spread by aerosol. So, plastic should work, should it?

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    "I heard that coronavirus is very unlikely to be spread by aerosol." Do you have a reputable source for this? Mar 18 '20 at 3:03
  • @anongoodnurse Not very "reputable", but numerous new articles yesterday with quotes like: "coronavirus can exist as an aerosol" ... "only under very limited conditions, and that this transmission route is not driving the pandemic." and "The virus does not linger in the air at high enough levels to be a risk to most people who are not physically near an infected person." ... "but unless you’re close to someone, the amount you’ve been exposed to is very low." So, IMHO, aerosol may be a problem, but I cannot do anything about it. Blocking saliva droplets should be more important.
    – jhnlmn
    Mar 18 '20 at 6:23
  • @anongoodnurse the SARS was aerosolized from faulty plumbing in HongKong. Also air testing near toilets has detected aerosol virus. Experimental data shows that it can persist for about 3 hours but it's not thought to be a significant mode of infection. Mar 18 '20 at 7:48
  • @GrahamChiu - The CDC states that arosolized droplets is the most common mode of transmission. Hence the request. Mind you, I don't hold the CDC up as Bible; they've been wrong plenty of times. Mar 18 '20 at 14:21
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    @GrahamChiu - I don't fully trust the CDC, as I said. They are much too conservative. I'm absolutely certain there is surface contamination. I would trust the Chinese literature regarding how many cases were transmitted via fomites. Their research (as was their response, excluding human rigths issues) is impressive. Mar 18 '20 at 18:03

Your question is almost the same as asking whether a plastic bag can be used as a hazmat suit, and the answer clearly must be no otherwise health professionals would be using bags instead of suits.

But does it provide protection? Likely it will as a physical barrier against droplet infection reaching your mucous membranes. Aerosols appear to require some type of mechanical assist eg. toilet flushing or faulty plumbing systems so I would not be concerned about those.

You'll need to remove the plastic bag without contamininating your hands, and then hand wash carefully after disposing of it.

Sorry, no references so opinion only.

PS: https://youtu.be/aNjpH5lBZ8w

DIY face mask reaching 90% efficiency of surgical mask from University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen

  • "health professionals would be using bags instead of suits" I am afraid that health professionals have no idea what to wear. Look at this photo: media.zenfs.com/EN/insider_articles_922/… One is wearing mask with glasses, another mask with some kind of plastic shield, the third one only mask. And there are numerous complains online from nurses that nobody explained them what to wear, how to keep themselves safe.
    – jhnlmn
    Mar 19 '20 at 0:32
  • You need to shield mucosal surfaces - eyes, mouth, nose, lungs and anus. Mar 19 '20 at 0:38

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