FACE MASKS IN TIMES OF PANDEMICS, A HISTORICAL AND SCIENTIFIC REVIEW AND PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS
Keywords:facemasks, prevention, COVID-19, pandemic, respiratory viral infections
The aim of this article is to present the medical and scientific literature (including an umbrella review) related to the use of face masks for the prevention of viral respiratory infections, to make an informed decision on the use of face masks during a pandemic. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, it was determined that the use of face masks is effective in reducing the transmission of respiratory infections. The first time face masks were used amongst the general public was during the 1918 Pandemic. Research on face masks during the 20th Century focused mainly on the effectiveness of the materials. It was determined that the best protection was achieved by using several layers of different close knit materials, preferably three. Meta-analyses showed that the use of face masks decreased the risk of contagion of respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19, compared with not using them. Face masks protect both the user and other people in the population by limiting the exposure to SARS-CoV-2, minimizing the viral load, hence decreasing the risk of developing severe COVID-19. It has been established that any type of face mask is better than not using any mask at all. When deciding upon the use of face masks one should consider the risks and benefits. We conclude that there is sufficient evidence to support that the benefits of using face masks outweigh the risks.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Sandra Lopez Leon, Cipatli Ayuzo , Carol Perelman , Rosalinda Sepulveda , Iris J. Colunga-Pedraza, Angélica Cuapio , Talia Wegman-Ostrosky
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.