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Masks cut transmission rates - conference hears

Monday September 28th 2020

Consistent wearing of masks together with social distancing and regular handwashing are effective means of preventing the spread of COVID-19, a European conference of infectious disease experts has heard.

The findings come from a study of Thailand’s contact tracing system – and found that wearing masks consistently reduced the risk of being infected by 77%.

The findings were reported to the special conference of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Researchers at Oxford University, UK, worked with Direk Limmathurotsakul, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, on the study, which compared 211 infected patients with another 839 controls. The contact investigations included outbreaks from nightclubs, boxing stadiums and offices.

The study also found that those in close contact with the infected for less than 15 minutes had 76% less chance of infection than those in longer contact. Frequent handwashing reduced the risk by 66%.

The researchers told the conference: "Our findings support consistent wearing of masks, handwashing, and social distancing in public to protect against COVID-19 infection."

* A second study, reported to the conference, found that there has been a large reduction in the circulation of other respiratory viruses since countries took steps against COVID-19 earlier this year.

The findings come from a study of patients presenting to hospitals in Hampshire with acute respiratory illness. Researchers compared 371 patients treated before 2020 with 485 treated this year – and found that the prevalence of viruses apart from SARS-CoV-2 fell from 68% to 4%.

Researcher Dr Stephen Poole, from Southampton, said: "Respiratory virus circulation is notoriously difficult to predict so we cannot say with any degree of certainty what may happen during the second wave. Lockdown measures may have dramatically impacted the spread of other respiratory viruses earlier than COVID-19, due to these viruses having shorter incubation periods.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1X8iXz52VhYUtXbVSLRKyUt-WG4ILGimt/view

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1PQuYqOKIYtzb7CG_M4Yc8G3_sZNz5ziy/view

Tags: Asia | Europe | Flu & Viruses

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