By Katie Hunt
(CNN) Stay 6 feet apart and, while you’re at it, wear a face covering.
The “most comprehensive study to date” found that physical distance and perhaps the use of a mask were the two best ways to prevent transmission of the new coronavirus.
The new study, published in the Lancet medical journal Monday, found people should stay at least three feet apart and more if possible.
The review of various published studies, paid for by the World Health Organization, had three main findings:
Physical distancing: The chance of transmission at a distance of less than 1 meter (3.3 feet) was 12.8%, while that fell to 2.6% at a distance of more than 1 meter (3.3 feet). It added that distances of 2 meters (6.6 feet) could be more effective. It said that the certainty of the evidence was ‘moderate.’
Face masks: The chance of transmission without a face mask or respirator (like an N95 mask) was 17.4%, while that fell to 3.1% when a mask was worn. However, the certainty of the evidence was ‘low.’
Eye protection: The chance of transmission without eye protection was put at 16%, compared to 5.5% with some form of eye protection as a face shield, visor, goggles or glasses. However, the certainty of the evidence was ‘low.’
The researchers looked at 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents, including studies in health care and community settings. They didn’t look at randomized controlled trials, considered the gold standard but almost impossible to implement for studying transmission of infections in people.
The researchers at universities around the world analyzed studies from the outbreaks of Covid-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome virus of SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus (MERS), which are from the same family of viruses.
While most countries around the world have instituted simple steps like these to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, the scientific evidence behind them hasn’t always been clear-cut and has, in the case of masks, sometimes been contradictory.
All experts agree, however, on the importance of washing hands with soap thoroughly and regularly.
The results of the review support a policy of physical distancing of at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) and, if feasible, 2 meters (6.6 feet) or more, the researchers said. The information could also be used to inform models that predict the spread of the disease and help with contact tracing schemes, the research team, led by Holger Schünemann of McMaster University in Canada, added.
Trish Greenhalgh, a professor of Primary Care Health Services at the University of Oxford who wasn’t involved in the research, said that while all these results were subject to uncertainty, the overwhelming message is that physical measures are effective in preventing Covid-19.
“This is a major step forward in our knowledge, since previous meta-analyses were mainly based on prevention of influenza and other diseases, which don’t behave the same way as the Covid-19 virus,” she told the Science Media Centre in London.
“In all three questions, the evidence appears to support the measures. For example, on average, staying 1 meter away from other people appears to reduce your chance of catching Covid-19 by 80%. Wearing a mask or face covering appears to reduce your risk by up to 85%. And wearing goggles or a face shield seems to reduce it by up to 78%.”
The best of the Muslim Times’ collection for war against Covid 19:
In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.
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The Muslim Times has the best collections in the war against Covid 19 as we are collecting from all the established sources
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