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article imageEarly adoption of face masks led to lower COVID-19 rates

By Tim Sandle     Jul 11, 2020 in Health
A new study finds that those countries that were early adopters of mandatory face mask wearing in public saw lower COVID-19 rates compared with nations that put policies in place later, or which have not mandated masks at all.
The research in relation to face masks and respirators comes from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and it is based on an assessment of 42 countries across 6 continents. The research identifies a negative correlation between wearing a face mask and infection rates. This is based on airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols representing the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19.
Such findings are unsurprising. Research from a decade ago found that the use of face masks and hand hygiene may reduce respiratory illnesses in community settings and lessen the impact of season influenza ("Mask Use, Hand Hygiene, and Seasonal Influenza-Like Illness among Young Adults: A Randomized Intervention Trial.")
Respirator mask for excluding viruses and chemicals.
Respirator mask for excluding viruses and chemicals.
While government policy is a key measure, cultural factors also influence the wearing of masks. For instance, in many Asian countries, the use of face masks ubiquitous and the donning of a mask part of overall hygiene etiquette. This is in contrast to many western countries, where there is often greater resistance.
This is evidenced with data relating to Hong Kong, which is in close proximity to mainland China. The infection rate in Hong Kong is considered modest (around 1,110 cases to-date). In Hong Kong 98.8 percent of people surveyed said they wear face masks in public. In contrast, the U.S. where face mask wearing rates are relatively low, there have been over two million cases.
Respirator mask for COVID-19  worn by Digital Journal s Tim Sandle.
Respirator mask for COVID-19, worn by Digital Journal's Tim Sandle.
Masks do have some limitations, however. While face ,asks trap the droplets the virus often remains infectious (a fact that makes used face masks hazardous waste. Face masks can be improved with the addition of chemicals like salt, which can inactivate many viruses.
The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The research paper is titled : "COVID-19 and Public Interest in Face Mask Use."
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