Wearing masks cuts new Covid-19 cases by 53 per cent: Global study

The results highlight the need to continue practising all safety measures, especially mask-wearing

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Reuters file
Reuters file

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 6:14 PM

Mask-wearing is the single most effective way to tackle Covid, reducing its incidence by 53 per cent, the first global study of its kind shows.

A systematic review and meta analysis of non-pharmaceutical interventions has found that mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing are all effective at curbing Covid-19 infections.

Of the three, wearing masks has been found to be the most effective.

“This systematic review and meta analysis suggests that several personal protective and social measures, including hand-washing, mask wearing, and physical distancing are associated with reductions in the incidence of Covid-19,” the researchers wrote in The BMJ.

The results highlight the need to continue practising all Covid safety measures, especially mask-wearing, researchers said.

Researchers at Monash University and the University of Edinburgh say multi-faceted measures, such as lockdowns and closures of borders, schools and workplaces, need further analysis to assess their potential negative effects on populations.


Results from more than 30 studies from around the world were analysed in detail, showing a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in Covid cases with mask-wearing and a 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing.

Hand-washing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence, although this was not statistically significant because of the small number of hand-washing studies included.

Several countries around the world adopted mask-wearing at the start of the pandemic. However, many dropped the requirement after inoculating most of its population.

With the recent spike in cases across Europe, countries including the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Poland and others have reintroduced the requirement.

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