Cloth masks can block 90 percent or more of the droplets containing coronavirus and are therefore a crucial protection against COVID-19 even if surgical masks are more effective, a new study said.
Researchers at the Brigham Young University in the US examined 115 different scientific studies on the coronavirus to help better understand the consensus on the best way to protect against the virus.
While the researchers found that cloth masks are effective in blocking COVID-19 droplets from spreading, they noted that this does not necessarily mean that cloth masks prevent infection.
“Cloth masks can stop 90 percent or more of the dispersal of droplets carrying the virus. There is some evidence that cloth masks also protect the wearer from infection, though this is less certain,” the researchers wrote.
The Brigham Young researchers noted that hospitals, universities, the private sector and government agencies around the world have all noted that face masks “could be one of the most powerful and cost-effective tools to stop COVID-19 and accelerate the economic recovery.”
The US Centers for Disease Control has been recommending since April that cloth masks should be worn in all public places where social distancing measures are hard to practice, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
During the early days of the virus, the scientific community generally told the public that only people infected with the virus needed to wear a mask. Today, most health authorities state nearly everyone, infected or not, should be wearing masks as a crucial tool to stop the spread of the virus.
The Brigham Young study noted this chance and said that there is now “convincing evidence” that points to the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“There is universal agreement, however, that masking alone will not be enough to stop the pandemic. Masking is most effective when combined with physical distancing, frequent handwashing, rapid testing, and coordinated contact tracing,” the researchers wrote.
Earlier research has previously suggested that of different face covering material available, cotton is the best to use, although N95 and surgical masks are still significantly more effective.