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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Social distancing and face masks will still be required, experts say

Experts have suggested that that social distancing, the wearing of face masks and hand hygiene will still be required to stay protected against Covid-19. 

These conclusions were made by researchers after analysing studies that assessed the effectiveness of global public health measures in reducing rates of Covid-19 transmission and mortality.

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Published by the British Medical Journal, the peer-reviewed paper examined 72 studies, 35 of which evaluated individual public health measures while 37 assessed multiple public health measures. 

Of the 35 studies of individual measures, 34 were observational and one was a randomised controlled trial.

The studies were carried out in Asia, the US, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America and Australia.

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The research revealed that in eight of the 35 studies, there was a 53% reduction in Covid-19 rates with mask-wearing while a 25% decrease was reported with social distancing. 

Additionally, handwashing showed a 53% reduction in Covid-19 rates. However, a detailed analysis on other measures was not possible due to differences in study design, outcome measures and quality.

Further assessment has yet to be conducted on those measures so that potential negative effects can be weighed up against positive results.

The researchers also stated that although vaccines have been proven to be safe, effective and safe lives, most do not provide 100% protection and it’s currently unknown how vaccines will prevent future transmissions in different variants. 

Lead author of the research Dr. Stella Talic stated, “Until herd immunity to Covid-19 is reached, regardless of the already proven high vaccination rates, public health preventive strategies are likely to remain as first choice measures in disease prevention, particularly in places with a low uptake of Covid-19 vaccination”. 

She concluded with, “Current evidence from quantitative analysis indicates a benefit associated with handwashing, mask-wearing, and physical distancing in reducing the incidence of Covid-19.”

IMAGE – “Delaware National Guard” by The National Guard is licensed under CC BY 2.0/IMAGE – “Take the right path in life” by Cityswift is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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