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Widespread Facemask Use Could Prevent a Second Covid-19 Wave

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

A study from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich has recommended the “immediate and universal adoption of facemasks by the public” to prevent further waves of the virus when combined with lockdowns. The World Health Organization (WHO) has already urged governments to encourage the use of face masks in public.

Lockdowns alone not enough

Masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public according to research from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich. The authors maintain that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Face masks reduce Covid-19 transmission to controllable levels

The study also found that wearing masks whenever in public is twice as effective at reducing the R value, or the disease’s reproduction rate, than if masks are only worn after symptoms appear.

The R value is a way of rating a disease's ability to spread. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth. In all scenarios examined by the study, face mask use by 50% or more of the population reduced Covid-19 spread to an R of less than 1.

Responsibility in business and social life

The most effective way to restart daily business and social life is to encourage responsibility. Professor John Colvin, co-author of the study from the University of Greenwich, explains that "There is a common perception that wearing a facemask means you consider others a danger. In fact, by wearing a mask you are primarily protecting others from yourself."

Ultimately, the research supports the attitude “My facemask protects you, your facemask protects me.”

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