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Coronavirus infection

Use of face mask benefits little: report

Published : 30 May 2020, 01:14

Updated : 30 May 2020, 09:20

  DF Report

Government officials spoke at a press conference on necessity of using face mask to check infection. Photo Finnish government by Lauri Heikkinen.

The effect of using face coverings on the spread of respiratory infections among people is minor, according to a government review report prepared on the basis of evidence gathered by research.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has drawn up the report on the use of face coverings to prevent coronavirus infections and submitted it to the government on Friday, said an official press release.

In laboratory conditions, face coverings have proved to reduce, at least to some extent, the spread of airborne micro-organisms.

In theory, a face covering may help the user prevent the spread of COVID-19 to some extent, but it does not provide protection against infection, said the report.

There are also risks connected with the use of face coverings, and that is why face coverings should be used properly and hygienically.

Contrary to prevalent notion, the report states that if not used properly, face coverings are considered to increase the risk of the spread of infections.

The report contains an overview of the relevant research evidence, the recommendations issued by international health organisations and a summary of the policies adopted by certain other countries.

Based on these, the report has drawn conclusions as to whether face coverings can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) have all stated that the primary means of preventing coronavirus infections are avoiding close contact with others (maintaining a distance of at least 1–2 metres from other people and avoiding unnecessary time in public places), washing one’s hands according to the guidelines and practising good hygiene when coughing and sneezing.

However, many countries have decided to enforce the use of face coverings during the pandemic. The report states that the policies adopted vary considerably from one country to another with regard to what extent the countries have recommended or obliged people to wear face coverings.

The reasoning behind these decisions also varies greatly.