It is becoming increasingly common to see people in the streets and in supermarkets wearing face masks. What was once thought to be overkill is now the norm and the question of their effectiveness has become a subject for discussion.
Local GP, Dr Ian Kingston from Mullumbimby says they are effective and he forwarded Echo Publications an extract from a recent story in Medscape Family Medicine.
‘It is widely agreed that face masks are an effective barrier against COVID-19, as its primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets. Contrary to common belief however, respiratory droplets are released not only when sneezing or coughing, but also when talking.
‘To be clear, mask use is one of the most effective physical interventions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.’
Dr Kingston says an extract from another text, this time from Adrien Burch, Microbiologist at UC Berkeley, pointed to a Cochrane Review that a systemic analysis of published studies on a given topic… ‘which found strong evidence during the 2003 SARS epidemic in support of wearing masks.
‘One study of community transmission in Beijing found that “consistently wearing a mask in public was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of catching SARS. SARS, like COVID-19, is a respiratory illness caused by the same family of viruses called coronavirus”.’
Dr Kingston says images on TV have shown the countries with the lowest COVID-19 infection rates are those where mask-wearing is widespread eg Singapore, South Korea.
‘Even though the Australian Government advises masks are only for those with symptoms, the evidence says otherwise, especially for reducing community transmission.
‘So, wear a mask if you go to Woolworths etc. They DO provide good protection and reduce community transmission’.
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