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German study suggests face masks can slow Covid-19 spread

A new study has suggested that the compulsory use of face masks can slow the spread of Covid-19 cases by as much as 40%.

The German report, published as a discussion paper for the Institute of Labour Economics, determined that mandatory face masks can “reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 40%”.

The study involved researchers examining the growth rate of cases in regions across Germany in the days following the introduction of masks in shops and on public transport.

For the experiment, the team of scientists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Southern Denmark closely studied the German city of Jena, which introduced mandatory face masks on 6 April.

The number of positive coronavirus cases recorded in the city fell by 25% over the next 20 days.

The report said: “Comparing the daily growth rate in the synthetic control group with the observed daily growth rate in Jena, the latter shrinks by around 60% due to the introduction of face masks.

“This is a sizeable effect. Wearing face masks apparently helped considerably in reducing the spread of Covid-19.”

In Ireland, people are being recommended to wear face coverings on public transport, in shops or situations where it is difficult to maintain social distance.

From next week people using public transport in England must wear face coverings under government rules.

While the researchers behind the German study hailed the results, they said more detailed analysis is still required before any definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of face masks can be made.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person and within 2 metres of them, to be considered at-risk, or a close contact.

German study suggests face masks can slow Covid-19 spread, RTE, Jun 12

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