Masks and social distancing can help control the corona virus, but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new study found.
The researchers concluded that single-layer cloth masks are less effective than surgical masks, while tight-fitting N95 masks offer the best protection, according to the study published in The Lancet medical journal.
A distance of one meter (more than three feet) between people reduces the risk of contracting the virus, while two meters (about 6.5 feet) are even better.
Eye protection such as glasses or goggles can also help. None of the strategies work properly and, according to the analysis, more rigorous studies are needed.
Because this corona virus is still new, health officials have relied on studies with its cousins, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The results come from a systematic review of 44 studies, including seven with the virus that causes COVID-1
“This clearly stores all of this information in one place for policy makers,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Derek Chu, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
The results of more rigorous experiments in Canada and Denmark, in which masks are tested in randomly assigned groups by nurses and the public, are still pending.
Until then, the Lancet study gives certainty that masks help.
Public health officials have given conflicting advice on masks.
The World Health Organization, which funded the new analysis, said that healthy people only need to wear a mask when they are caring for someone with COVID-19.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised people in the United States to wear at least one fabric mask when shopping for food or in similar situations where it is difficult to keep a distance. In other countries, wearing a mask is mandatory when you go outside.