Masks crucial to prevent infection spread: scientists
Face covers reduce transmissibility per contact
- In light of convincing research evidence that face masks are a great tool to stop community spread of COVID-19, a group of scientists across the world have come together to issue an open letter promoting the use of masks by members of the public.
- Arguing that the simple task of wearing a mask reduces transmission and thereby, mortality, the scientists have pressed for wearing masks, even defining it as any face covering, as a key public health intervention.
- People are most infectious in the initial period of infection, when it is common to have few or no symptoms.
- Cloth masks obstruct a high portion of the droplets from the mouth and nose that spread the virus.
- Non-medical masks have been effective in reducing transmission of coronavirus.
- Cloth masks can be washed in soapy water and re-used.
- Places and time periods where mask usage is required or widespread have been shown to substantially lower community transmission.
- Public mask wearing is most effective at stopping spread of the virus when the vast majority of the public uses masks.
- Laws appear to be highly effective at increasing compliance and slowing or stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Effective but low cost
- The preponderance of evidence, in both laboratory and clinical settings, indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets.
- The decreased transmissibility could substantially reduce the death toll, other harms to public health, job losses and economic losses.
- Modeling suggests that widespread public mask use, in conjunction with other measures, could bring the effective reproduction number (R) beneath 1.0, thus halting the growth of the pandemic.
- Therefore, we ask that government officials require cloth masks to be worn in all public places, such as stores, transportation systems, and public buildings as soon as possible.
- This action will prevent people who are infectious from unknowingly spreading the disease.
- We also ask business leaders who offer products and services to the public to require their employees and customers to wear masks whether or not it is required by local law.
- Such requirements will greatly increase the rate of mask wearing.
- This should be done in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, hand hygiene, physical distancing, testing, and contact tracing strategies.
- There is no need to wait for availability of medical-grade masks; any face covering, including a piece of cloth, a scarf, or bandana, appears to be effective.