Do Face Masks Really Help Prevent Coronavirus Spread?

Here’s why face masks are important in the current pandemic and how much face coverings and physical distancing are found to significantly reduce the risk of transmission.

Why  Face Masks Are Important Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) first announced the new coronavirus as a global pandemic, everyone is encouraged to wear facial protective coverings and observe social distancing, which means that we should all stay six feet apart as much as possible. This is because the coronavirus’ primary mode of transmission is through physical contact and air droplets from infected people. And according to research, these measures really are effective in the long run.

This is because, recently, a first-of-its-kind study that used data from 16 different countries on six continents offers evidence that when it comes to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, face masks and social distancing really do a lot of the legwork so we should continue to follow them. The findings, published on the journal Lancet, were based on studies of 25,000 COVID-19 patients, including SARS and MERS, and not just the current coronavirus behind the pandemic.

Per the findings, which were made by researchers from Canada’s McMaster University, one’s risk of transmitting the virus dropped to 3.1 percent if one is wearing a mask or respirator, while it can go as high as 17.1 percent if you’re not wearing one or not following any preventive measures. Furthermore, the study also stated that physical distancing comes highly effective and that every inch counts. For example, findings revealed that the risk of transmission drops to 2.6 percent if you distance yourself by a meter compared to the 12.8 percent if you’re closer than three feet. However, seven feet (or more than two meters) is the most ideal space. Additionally, people who wear eye protection drop the risk of transmission to only 5.5 percent.

"Having that barrier would help prevent our hands touching our eyes, and it's also a barrier against the virus. Still, I would stress the importance of hand washing as no single intervention on its own made an individual completely impervious to transmission," Derek Chu, study co-author, said.

Face mask and COVID-19 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear face masks in public spaces to help reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, especially in closed spaces like grocery stores, clinics, and hospitals. Pixabay

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