Impact of facemasks on second wave modelled
Population-wide use of facemasks could shrink the ‘R’ number and prevent a second COVID-19 wave, according to a modelling study from the universities of Cambridge and Greenwich.
Lockdowns only are not sufficient to stop a resurgence, the researchers say, but the widespread use of facemasks can keep the coronavirus reproduction number under 1.0, which when combined with lockdowns can prevent further waves.
Even homemade masks, if enough people wear them, can slash transmission rates, according to the research, which is published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
According to the study, if people wear masks when in public, rather than only after symptoms appear, this is twice as effective at reducing the ‘R’ number.
To assess different scenarios of lockdowns and facemask use, the researchers used population-level models, and they also considered negative aspects of mask use such as increased face touching.