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Study suggests that social distancing, wearing masks and glasses actually work

Study suggests that social distancing, wearing masks and glasses actually work

Physical distance of more than one meter, the use of masks and glasses are the best shields that people have to reduce the possibility of becoming infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which transmits the Covid-19 disease.


This was concluded by a study published by scientists from McMaster University in Canada in The Lancet magazine on June 1.

The scientific publication showed that the risk of infection is 12.8% at a distance of one meter, and it reduces to 2.6% at more than one meter away.

Regarding the masks, the scientists state that without this protection the risk of virus transmission is 17.4% and with it it is reduced to 3.1%.

Also, the reduction of infection is demonstrated with the use of eye protectors, such as glasses.

Rodrigo DeAntonio, an epidemiologist and who is part of the team of the Coronavirus Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Health, explained that this study consolidates the evidence from various observational analyzes that support the guidelines that the physical distance of at least 1 meter or more reduces transmission of the new coronavirus, and that the greater the distance, the better.

He recommended that the population ensure that they comply with the measures of physical distance, use of face masks and hand washing.

In the study published by The Lancet, scientists emphasize that health authorities should take these conclusions into account when developing protection policies against the virus.

The scientific formula to avoid the spread of the virus

Physical distancing and the use of protective implements such as masks and glasses to prevent the spread of Covid-19 disease are recurring recommendations of the authorities of the Ministry of Health (Minsa) to the population to face the pandemic.

The importance of physical distance and the use of masks and glasses was confirmed by a study carried out by McMaster University in Canada and published on June 1 in the scientific journal The Lancet.

Experts analyzed 172 observational studies from 16 countries evaluating distance measures, masks, and eye protection to prevent transmission of patients with confirmed or probable Covid-19, SARS, or MERS infection to people close to them, such as caregivers, family members and health workers.

Subsequently, 44 comparative meta-analyzes with 25,697 patients affected by Covid-19 or their relatives were included in the published work; and the SARS-CoV-2 and MERS coronaviruses.

The complete analysis of the evidence led Canadian scientists to conclude that maintaining a distance of at least one meter apart from other people significantly reduces the risk of contagion, but it is much more reduced to two meters away.

Findings

The investigation showed that the risk of infection is 12.8% at a distance of one meter, and it is reduced to 2.6% at more than one meter away.

The scientists also analyzed the available data on the usefulness of eye protection, allowing them to establish that the use of screens or glasses can be a useful tool against the virus (the risk of infection goes from 16% to 5.5%). In addition, as in the case of masks, the researchers acknowledge that, in this field, the evidence that exists so far is low, so new research must be carried out in this regard.

Regarding masks, the document indicates that without this protection the risk of virus transmission is 17.4% and with it it is reduced to 3.1%.

In fact, the study data indicates that FFP2 or KN95 masks are more effective than surgical or reusable ones. However, given the lack of availability in many contexts of the most efficient filtering masks, such as FFP2 or KN95, their use should be prioritized in healthcare personnel.

Rodrigo DeAntonio, an epidemiologist and part of the team of the Advisory Committee for the Minsa Coronavirus, explained that this study consolidates the evidence from various observational analyzes, which supports the guidelines that the physical distance of at least 1 meter or more reduces the transmission of the new coronavirus, and the greater the distance the better.

He added that the available evidence also suggests that the proper use of masks and eye protection in public and healthcare settings would reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

In this sense, Minsa personnel have been in various parts of the capital city in recent weeks, verifying the correct use of masks and raising awareness about physical distancing and hand-washing.

In research published in The Lancet, scientists stress that health authorities should take these findings into account when developing protection policies against the virus.

Recommendations

Given these results, the main suggestion of the Minsa advisers and authorities is that the population ensure compliance with the measures of physical distance, use of face masks and hand washing.

However, last week it was evident that in Panama a percentage of the population is not complying, for example, with the distancing measure. On June 1, when the quarantine measure was lifted, crowds were observed to enter supermarkets or board a bus and even in recreation areas.

Néstor Sosa, an infectologist and former director of the Gorgas Commemorative Institute for Health Studies, said that one of the factors influencing the increase in Covid-19 cases in the country is that people are not keeping physical distance or do not use the masks.

He explained that it is very difficult to physically distance oneself for example in a residence with six or more people living in one bedroom.

Available epidemiological information suggests that Covid-19 disease strikes the poorest people of the country the most. In Panama, there are an estimated 777,000 Panamanians living in poverty.

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