Scientists say face mask is the first line of defence against COVID-19

Scientists say face mask is the first line of defence against COVID-19
Face Mask seller at the Anna Main road in K K Nagar in Chennai on Thursday.; Face Mask seller at the Anna Main road in K K Nagar in Chennai on Thursday.BCCL

  • A face mask can dramatically decrease a person’s chance to get infected by coronavirus or any other influenza.
  • These face masks remind people not to touch their face or eyes and wash their hands frequently.
  • In the last couple months, scientists have published a number of studies showing the difference a mask can make in curbing human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.
It is not that hard to believe that six months ago people would rarely make a public appearance wearing a face mask. But face masks have become our simplest way to fight a deadly pandemic — which has killed 436,319 worldwide and infected over 8 million.

A face mask can dramatically decrease a person’s chance to get infected by coronavirus or any other influenza. In the last couple months, scientists have published a number of studies showing the difference a mask can make in curbing human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.

A World Health Organisation-funded journal, published in Lancet, recently studied data from 172 observational studies and concluded that face masks have the potential to reduce the risk of having coronavirus infection.

Facemasks reminds people not to touch their face

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A face mask is the most effective way to deal with a pandemic along with hand washing and social distancing. These face masks remind people not to touch their face or eyes and wash their hands frequently.

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“Our findings suggest, in multiple ways, that the use of masks is highly protective in health-care and community settings,” said the author of the review, Holger Schünemann, an epidemiologist and physician at McMaster University in Ontario.

Another study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the chances of Covid-19 infection and how the virus is easily passed from person to person.

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From trends and mitigation procedures in China, Italy and New York City, the researchers found that using a face mask reduced the number of infections by more than 78,000 in Italy between April 6 and May 9 and by over 66,000 in New York City between April 17 and May 9.

"Our results clearly show that airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols represents the dominant route for the spread of Covid-19," said study researcher Renyi Zhang from Texas A&M University in the US.

These face masks are not only useful to prevent infected coughing droplets from reaching uninfected persons but are also crucial for these uninfected persons to avoid breathing the minute atmospheric particles (aerosols).

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“Can prevent second wave”
Scientists say face mask is the first line of defence against COVID-19
A man covered with face mask passes through a graffiti which depicts social distancing, at Africa avenue road during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo Piyal BhattacharjeeBCCL

University of Cambridge also said that if all the people in the US start wearing masks all the time — then it can prevent a second wave which is likely to hit in the next 18 months. Moreover, if at least 50% people start wearing masks in public then it can help flatten the curve.

“We have little to lose from the widespread adoption of facemasks, but the gains could be significant,” Renata Retkute, a doctor and coauthor and Cambridge team member.

SEE ALSO:
1 in every 10 new patients tested in India is COVID-19 positive — and that just means community transmission is underway but not everywhere
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