It’s been two months since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and for some people, including cabinet ministers, that means taking the old rules with a grain of salt – especially when it comes to face masks.
Though no longer required except on public transportation in London and in general healthcare settings, unless exempt, face masks are still recommended in crowded, confined spaces and many shops and cafes still require customers to put them on.
To wear a face mask isn’t always the most comfortable experience as you may know, but new research shows that masks not only protect others but also reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus.
In fact, studies have shown that people who do not wear face coverings in confined spaces are 1.5 times more likely to be infected with coronavirus than those who do.
This is according to data from the Office for National Statistics, which looked at the characteristics of those who tested positive in the two weeks ending Sept. 11.
Wearing a well-fitting mask indoors “definitely protects other people from one’s own germs,” according to Professor Trisha Greenhalgh of the University of Oxford, with studies highlighting that it reduces viral emissions from coughing and sneezing by about 20-fold.
She said, “It would also be expected to protect the wearer to some extent ‘for example by reducing the amount of virus that you breathe in, thereby producing an asymptomatic or mild illness rather than a severe one’.
“If you do wear a mask, make sure it doesn’t have any gaps around the side, otherwise it is much less effective.”
Yale University researchers also published the findings of a randomized controlled trial that took place in 600 villages in Bangladesh. Residents in some villages were given surgical masks, while those in others were given cloth masks.
According to Jason Abaluck, the study’s lead researcher, “in surgical mask villages, we saw a 12% reduction in Covid overall and a 35% reduction among those aged 60 and up.”
The most recent ONS report is based on the organization’s regular infection survey, which swabs a representative sample of households on a regular basis to track coronavirus. In the two weeks leading up to September 11, approximately 170,000 people were tested, with approximately one in every 90 testing positive.
According to the findings, people who had received one or two doses of a vaccine were less likely to test positive than those who had not been vaccinated. People who had previously been infected with coronavirus were also less likely to test positive than those who had never been infected with Covid-19.