New York: Masks have been found to curb the spread of COVID-19 in epicenters and avoid thousands of new cases, a new study suggests.
The research published in PNAS: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, highlighted the importance of masks and noted that it is more important than social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
The study found that infection trends reduced dramatically when mask-wearing rules were implemented on April 6 in Italy and April 17 in New York City. Both these areas were among the hardest hit in the world.
“This protective measure alone significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by over 78,000 in Italy from April 6 to May 9 and over 66,000 in New York City from April 17 to May 9,” researchers calculated.
The rate of infection fell by around 3 percent per day once mask-wearing was mandated in New York. At the same time, the rate increased in other parts of the country.
The research also pointed out that social distancing, quarantine, isolation, and hand sanitising norms were already in effect in both Italy and New York City before the decline. Face coverings helped prevent airborne transmission which was the dominant route for infection, it concluded.
“The unique function of face-covering to block atomisation and inhalation of virus-bearing aerosols accounts for the significantly reduced infections,” they said.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday asked people in large gatherings to use face coverings where “shouting, chanting or singing” are common.