Face Mask Use in the Community for Reducing the Spread of COVID-19: A Systematic Review

face mask

Five studies evaluated the combined outcomes of markers and hand hygiene in lessening transmission (Aiello et al., 2012, Barasheed et al., 2014, Heinzerling et al., 2020, Lau et al., 2008a, Suess et al., 2012). Three studies observed the utilization of face mask and hand hygiene significantly lowered the transmission of influenza-like illness (Aiello et al., 2012, Barasheed et al., 2014, Heinzerling et al., 2020). Although Suess et al. (2012) didn’t observe a statistically significant difference for the combined effects of mask and hand hygiene, the authors noted that commencement of these interventions within 36hours of symptom onset of the index case led to lower rates of transmitting secondary infection among contacts.

Public mask wearing is ideally suited for at reducing spread from the virus when compliance is high. Given the current shortages of medical masks, we recommend the adoption of public cloth mask wearing, as an effective form of source control, in conjunction with existing hygiene, distancing, and phone tracing strategies. Because many respiratory particles become smaller on account of evaporation, we recommend increasing give attention to a previously overlooked aspect of mask usage: mask wearing by infectious people (“source control”) with benefits in the population level, in lieu of only mask wearing by susceptible people, such as medical care workers, with focus on individual outcomes. We recommend that public officials and governments strongly encourage the using widespread markers in public, such as the usage of appropriate regulation.


All studies that compared the usage of nose and mouth mask, irrespective of the type, to non-use of breathing apparatus observed an extremely higher rate of infection on the list of participants who did not use mask. For instance, Wang et al. (2020a) reported no SARS-CoV-2 infection among participants who wore a breathing apparatus whilst 10 participants within the no mask group were infected. In similar lines, potential risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 was considered to be 36.9 times higher in people that used no masks (Wang et al., 2020a). In addition, Kim et al. (2016) noted that two participants who failed to wear a mask contracted MERS-CoV.

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