Newly released research reveals that wearing a surgical face mask is an effective way of reducing your risk of contracting the coronavirus. Hong Kong scientists conducted a study on hamsters and found that two-thirds of those not protected by a face mask placed over their cages came down with the disease.
This contradicts the previous theory that surgical masks were mainly effective in protecting others against the respiratory droplets of infected persons — but didn’t offer adequate protection for the wearers themselves.
“The findings implied to the world and the public is that the effectiveness of mask-wearing against the coronavirus pandemic is huge,” said microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung of Hong Kong University, according to The Hill.
“Up to this stage, we don’t have a safe and effective vaccine. What remains is social distancing or wearing masks,” he added.
Until this research was released, health officials were not certain how effective surgical face masks were in the face of the novel coronavirus. According to the Mayo Clinic, surgical masks, also known as medical masks, were not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for protection against the COVID-19 virus. The FDA did, however, acknowledge that these masks may offer some protection when the more reliable N95 masks were not available.
Surgical face masks, which are loose fitting, were thought to stop large droplets of respiration sent into the air, but not necessarily the smaller particles that carry the virus. That’s why the sturdier and tighter N95 masks were deemed more effective. Now, thanks to the new research, we know that the surgical masks offer substantial protection, according to The Hill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of face coverings for people in public venues to prevent the spread of disease.
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