Best Available Evidence Supports Physical Distancing and Wearing Face Masks For Healthcare Workers
From Medical News Today
The sudden, rapid emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 has left researchers searching for a safe, effective vaccine to reduce the transmission. However, the development of a vaccine may be 12-18 months away, if indeed such a vaccine can ever be found.
In the absence of a vaccine or other treatments that would slow the spread of the virus, public health organizations have recommended a series of social and behavioral changes to reduce the transmission.
In addition to frequent handwashing, authorities have emphasized the importance of physical distancing: leaving the house less frequently and maintaining as much distance as possible from others at all times while outside.
They also recommend the use of face masks and eye protection, particularly among healthcare workers and people working in the community.
However, experts are still debating when and how these policies should be implemented — including what constitutes the minimum distance that people should maintain from one another, when and where to wear personal protective equipment, and how effective this equipment is against the virus.
The authors conclude that there is good evidence that maintaining a minimum distance of 1 meter, or about 3.3 feet, from other people is likely to have a significant effect on reducing the spread of the virus.
Across 38 studies that included information about distancing, infection rates overall were reduced to 2.6% when maintaining a distance of more than 1 meter from a person with the infection. By comparison, among studies in which distancing was less than 1 meter, the infection rate was 12.8%.
Around three-quarters of the studies focused on healthcare settings, which means that while the evidence to support wearing face masks in these contexts is good, there is more uncertainty surrounding the use in non-healthcare settings.