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Masks, handwashing can lower Covid-19 incidence by half: Study

Masks, handwashing can lower Covid-19 incidence by half: Study

Mask-wearing can lower the incidence of Covid-19 by 53%, and it is the single most effective measure to tackle the spread of infection, says a study. Handwashing also indicated a similar result. A 25% reduction was achieved with social distancing.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions have concluded that mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing are the most effective measures at preventing the spread of coronavirus. Researchers said that the governments should highlight these measures alongside vaccination.

A global study conducted by researchers at Monash University and the University of Edinburgh found that wearing masks is more effective than vaccines in preventing transmission of Covid-19. They wrote that vaccines are safe and effective in saving lives but do not offer 100% protection, reported The Guardian.

Several European nations, including Netherland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, have recently tightened rules on mask-wearing. Hungary has resisted making masks mandatory in closed spaces despite seeing a rise in cases. England also has similar measures, and the UK prime minister Boris Johnson was recently criticised for being photographed in a hospital without wearing a mask.

Hexham General, Dr David Nabarro, said that people should not rely on any single intervention like vaccination to deal with the risk of Covid-19. "We know that wearing a face mask, washing hands, and social distancing reduces the risk. We should all do it," he said, as reported by Sky News.

This is the first review that has allowed experts to draw firm conclusions about the effectiveness of mask-wearing in controlling Covid-19. Over 30 studies from around the world were analysed to find a significant 53% reduction in the incidence of Covid-19 among the mask-wearing population.

However, measures like quarantine, isolation, universal lockdowns, and closure of borders could not be analysed due to differences in study design, outcome measures and quality.

The study has been published in the journal BMJ.

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