Face masks have become a recurring point of conversation across the globe over the past few months.
As a number of nations have gone under strict or semi-lockdowns, with face masks becoming a regular part of our day to day lives, new research suggests we may need to wear them in much higher numbers, and for a much longer period of time than expected.
A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich explains that in order to stop a second wave of COVID-19 to hit, the widespread use of face masks will have to be used.
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Lockdowns alone won't stop the second wave of COVID-19
The researchers of the study state that lockdowns alone won't be able to block a resurgence of the virus, let alone what effects these may have on economies worldwide.
The study points out that even homemade masks that are roughly 50% effective can dramatically reduce the spread of the virus if enough people wear them, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Richard Stutt of Cambridge University said "Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public."
He continued "If widespread face mask use by the public is combined with physical distancing and some lockdown, it may offer an acceptable way of managing the pandemic and re-opening economic activity long before there is a working vaccine."
As the coronavirus is transmitted by infectious people through airborne droplets, mainly through talking, coughing, or sneezing, wearing face masks makes sense.
The study also found that if people wore masks when in public, it was twice as effective at lowering the transmission rate than if people start wearing masks only after they start showing symptoms.
The biggest finding, however, was that if 100% of the population wore masks, as well as on/off lockdown scenarios were still taking place, the prevention of a second wave would be successful.
Professor John Colvin, co-author of the study and professor at Greenwich University explained "There is a common perception that wearing a face mask means you consider others a danger. In fact, by wearing a mask you are primarily protecting others from yourself."
"Cultural and even political issues may stop people wearing face masks, so the message needs to be clear: my mask protects you, your mask protects me," he continued.
He ended by saying "The most effective way to restart daily life is to encourage everyone to wear some kind of mask whenever they are in public."
So, go out and buy or make your best face mask and wear it all the time, encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to do so too, and perhaps we'll have a better chance at preventing a second wave.