Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Keep wearing masks and social distancing — it works, new study says

The Canadian Press reports:

Masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new study from Hamilton’s McMaster University says.

Researchers concluded single-layer cloth masks are less effective than surgical masks, while tight-fitting N95 masks provide the best protection. A distance of 1 metre (more than 3 feet) between people lowers the danger of catching the virus, while 2 metres (about 6 1/2 feet) is even better.

Eye protection such as eyeglasses or goggles can help too. None of the strategies work perfectly and more rigorous studies are needed, according to the analysis published Monday. The report says “The risk for infection is highly dependent on distance to the individual infected and the type of face mask and eye protection worn.”

With the coronavirus still new, health officials have relied on studies involving its cousins, severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The findings come from a systematic review of 44 studies, including seven involving the virus causing COVID-19. The remaining focused on SARS or MERS.

Researchers say their study “identified 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, with no randomised controlled trials and 44 relevant comparative studies in health-care and non-health-care settings.” That included 25,697 patients.

“This puts all that information clearly in one place for policymakers to use,” said study co-author Dr. Derek Chu of McMaster University in Hamilton. [Continue reading…]

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