With celebrities like Chris Rock and Rosie Perez, not to mention the CDC, imploring you to wear a face mask, you’ve gotten the message: a face mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, a new study suggests that if you wear a mask indoors at home, you could stop the virus from spreading even more.
“Household transmission is a major driver of epidemic growth…A face mask worn before symptoms started was 79% effective at stopping the virus from infecting others, but masks offered no protection if used after symptoms had appeared, according to a peer-reviewed observational study of Chinese families in Beijing, accepted for publication in BMJ Global Health, an online journal. Disinfection was 77% effective in preventing transmission, the study found.”
It Can Help Prevent Transmission
So reported the Hindustan Times, which also talked to the doctor behind the findings: “Airborne infection is the main source of infection, the best way to stop the spread of infection is for the sick person to wear a mask. But with around 80% people being asymptomatic or having mild disease, wearing a mask in areas where COVID-19 prevalence is high can help prevent transmission of infection,” said Dr. GC Khilnani, chairman of PSRI Institute of Pulmonary and Critical Care, according to the paper.
The findings make a lot of sense. “COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks,” reports the CDC. “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs”—including those in your home. “Studies and evidence on infection control report that these droplets usually travel around 6 feet (about two arms lengths).”
Where to Wear Your Mask
The CDC recommends you wear cloth face coverings “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations.” So far no authority in the United States has suggested wearing a mask indoors.
Dr. GC Khilnani wonders, however, if even tighter precautions might be taken, when you’re inside with your family—uncomfortable as it may be. “This study confirms the highest risk of household transmission being prior to symptom onset, but that precautionary [non-pharmaceutical interventions], such as mask use, disinfection and social distancing in households can prevent COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic, independent of household size or crowding,” he concluded, reports the Times.
To be extra safe, and get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.