News World Widespread mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves-study

Widespread mask-wearing could prevent COVID-19 second waves-study

 

Population-wide face mask use could push COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels for national epidemics, and could prevent further waves of the pandemic disease when combined with lockdowns, according to a British study on Wednesday.

The research, led by scientists at the Britain’s Cambridge and Greenwich Universities, suggests lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, but that even homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public.

“Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public,” said Richard Stutt, who co-led the study at Cambridge.

He said combining widespread mask use with social distancing and some lockdown measures, could be “an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and re-opening economic activity” before the development of an effective vaccine against COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

The study’s findings were published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society A” scientific journal.

At the onset of the pandemic, scientific evidence on the effectiveness of face masks in slowing transmission of respiratory diseases was limited, and there was no data on COVID-19 since it was a previously unknown disease.

But, prompted by some new research in recent weeks, the World Health Organization said on Friday it now recommends that everyone wear fabric face masks in public to try to reduce disease spread.

In this study, researchers linked the dynamics of spread between people with population-level models to assess the effect on the disease’s reproduction rate, or R value, of different scenarios of mask adoption combined with periods of lockdown.

The R value measures the average number of people that one infected person will pass the disease on to. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.

The study found that if people wear masks whenever they are in public it is twice as effective at reducing the R value than if masks are only worn after symptoms appear.

In all scenarios the study looked at, routine face mask use by 50% or more of the population reduced COVID-19 spread to an R of less than 1.0, flattening future disease waves and allowing for less stringent lockdowns.

Experts not directly involved in the latest British study were divided over its conclusions.

Brooks Pollock, a Bristol University infectious disease modelling expert, said the likely impact of masks could be much smaller than predicted. Trish Greenhalgh, an Oxford University professor, said the findings were encouraging and suggested masks “are likely to be an effective population measure”.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

178 new cases, out of 9.884 tests announced on Wednesday

The Health Ministry announced 178 new Coronavirus cases out of 9,884 PCR and rapid antigen tests on Wednesday, 20 January, taking confirmed infections to...

Where to get antigen rapid tests on Thursday

The Health Ministry announced the following antigen rapid test sites for Thursday, 21 January 2021: LIMASSOL Parking place Sklavenitis supermarket, Germasogia 08:30-16:30 Parking place Lidl supermarket, Limassol...

Expert says too early to assess epidemiological situation

Head of the Scientific Advisory Committee on the coronavirus, Dr Constantinos Tsioutis, told CNA that it is too early to safely assess the evolution...

Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States

Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front...

Building collapses in central Madrid explosion, several injured

One building collapsed in a central Madrid explosion, a Reuters reporter saw, with smoke coming out of the building and rescue workers evacuating elderly...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...