Researchers in China have found that wearing a face mask at home can reduce the chances of family members catching coronavirus by 79%. The study, published in the BMJ Global Health illustrates that the practice was effective only before symptoms emerged in the first person in a family.
The study, which was carried out with inputs from 460 people of 124 families with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case between late February and late March 2020.
The families sized 2-9 comprised of three generations in most cases. The family members were defined as people who lived four days before and more than 24 hours after the first infected person showed COVID-19 symptoms.
This study confirms the highest risk of household transmission being prior to symptom onset, but that precautionary, such as mask use, disinfection and social distancing in households can prevent COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic.
The researchers studied the patterns and factors involved in the spread of the virus within the incubation period. During these 14 days, secondary transmission took place in 41 families with 77 adults and children catching the virus, thus keeping the attack rate to be 1 in 4 or 23%.
36% of the children were infected and 69.5% of the adults were infected. The study further showed that 12 children experienced mild symptoms whereas one showed no symptoms at all. Similarly, 83% of the adults witnessed mild symptoms, 1 in 10 people had severe illness whereas one person was critically ill.
As per the study’s findings, disinfection proved to be 77% effective for containing the virus whereas wearing the masks before the first person became infected proved to be 79% effective. Daily contact, even with masks, after the COVID-19 symptoms showed in at least one person of the family, heightened the risk of catching the virus. On the other hand, staying a meter apart, opening windows and disinfecting regularly lowered the risk.