The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped life as we all know it. Many people are staying house, avoiding individuals on the road and altering every day habits, like going to school or work, in ways we never imagined.
While we are altering old behaviours, there are new routines we have to adopt. At the start is the habit of wearing a mask or face covering every time we are in a public space.
Based mostly on our prior work in outbreaks of infectious ailments, we all know that clear, constant messages about what folks can do to protect themselves and their community are critical. By that measure, the messaging on masks has been confusing.
Early within the pandemic, most people was told not to wear masks. This was pushed by the longstanding recognition that customary surgical masks (also called medical masks) are insufficient to protect the wearer from many respiratory pathogens, as well as the concern about diverting limited provides from healthcare settings.
Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, and it inevitably changes the best way we see the world. Due to the tireless efforts of scientists in all places, now we have compressed years of analysis on the COVID-19 virus into months. This has led to a rapid evolution of policies and recommendations, and never surprisingly some skepticism concerning the advice of experts.
These are a few of the things we’ve realized:
Masks and face coverings can stop the wearer from transmitting the COVID-19 virus to others and will provide some protection to the wearer. Multiple studies have shown that face coverings can include droplets expelled from the wearer, which are responsible for almost all of transmission of the virus. This 'supply control' approach reflects a shift in thinking from a 'medical' perspective (will it protect the wearer?) to a 'public health' perspective (will it assist reduce neighborhood transmission and risk for everybody?).
Many individuals with COVID-19 are unaware they're carrying the virus. It's estimated that 40% of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic but probably able to transmit the virus to others. In the absence widespread screening tests, we now have no approach of figuring out many people who are silently transmitting the virus of their community.
Common masks use can significantly reduce virus transmission in the community by stopping anybody, together with those that are unwittingly carrying the virus, from transmitting it to others. Disease modeling suggests masks worn by significant portions of the inhabitants, coupled with other measures, might result in substantial reductions in case numbers and deaths.
Masks aren't perfect boundaries to transmission, however they don’t need to be excellent if they aren’t used alone. Common masks use must be accompanied by different public health measures akin to physical distancing, testing, contact tracing and restrictions on massive gatherings. Those measures aren’t perfect either, however when many imperfect measures are combined at a neighborhood level, they can be very effective at slowing transmission and reducing infections.
Masks also can reduce the inequitable impact of the pandemic, significantly for many who live in crowded environments where physical distancing is troublesome, and for those who work in frontline roles the place there's a better risk of publicity to the virus.
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