The UK government has just advised that the general public should wear masks in public where social distancing isn’t always possible. Now 88% of the world lives in countries where the government and leading disease experts both agree that masks are effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, many countries, like the US, still don’t have widespread mask usage. But why are they so necessary in the fight to reduce the COVID-19 pandemic?
People who choose to go out in public without a mask are putting others at risk. Most experts agree that many infected and contagious people are asymptomatic, and don’t actually realise that they have the virus. They, therefore, unbeknown to them or others, may be spreading the virus through simply breathing, speaking and coughing. A mask significantly reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19 from you to others.
Countries that have contained major COVID-19 outbreaks have close to 100% mask usage. Countries like the UK, US, Canada and Russia, where, until recently, mask usage was limited, have experienced much more extreme outbreaks of the virus. In countries like Thailand, China and South Korea where mask usage is required or there is universal mask usage, we have seen a decline in COVID-19 cases, showing that where masks are worn, the virus is controlled.
Scientific studies have shown that cloth mask usage can effectively stop the spread of COVID-19. An international review of the scientific research on masks by 19 experts (from Stanford, MIT, Oxford, UPenn, Brown, UNC, UCLA, and USF) concluded that:
- Near-universal adoption of non-medical masks in public (in conjunction with other measures like test & trace) can reduce effective-R below 1.0 and stop the community spread of the virus.
- Laws appear to be highly effective at increasing compliance and slowing or stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Cloth masks work by limiting the distance and spread of water droplets from the nose and mouth containing the virus. Water droplets can travel up to 8m, which is much further than the 2m social distancing rules, however by wearing a mask you can significantly reduce the spread of the virus through these droplets.
However, you don’t need to use medical grade masks, cloth masks are just as effective. Please don’t buy professional masks because our healthcare workers need those. Cloth masks made from t-shirts, scarfs, or pillowcases are very effective at preventing you from infecting other people. At Bags of EthicsTM we have developed with scientists and designers cloth masks that will help you stop the spread of the virus without depleting stores of medical essentials, and that will also help protect the planet with no need for single-use plastic. For more information and to check out our masks, check out https://bagsofethics.org/reusable-face-mask