Hamster tests show masks reduce coronavirus spread: scientists

Hamsters prove how effective face masks can be in stopping coronavirus transmission

The World Health Organization (WHO), however, warned that while face masks may help curb the spread of COVID-19, they were insufficient on their own. The research has been carried out at the Hong Kong University by placing face masks on mice.

With no mask barriers at all, two-thirds of the healthy hamsters - 66.7 percent - were infected with the novel coronavirus in a week, the researchers found. "According to the SCMP", only two of 12 subjects in the adjoining cage" (16.7%) tested positive for the coronavirus when masks were placed on the infected hamster's box.

A new study in China used hamsters to evaluate the effectiveness of face masks against coronavirus transmission. "We now know that a large part of those infected do not show symptoms, therefore the port's universal mask is really important", he added.

That infection rate went up to 33 percent when the mask barrier was only used to cover the healthy hamsters' cage.

The team, led by Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, artificially infected hamsters with the disease and placed them in a cage next to their healthy counterparts.

"Last month, a separate study published by a group of worldwide experts, created a model that shows cases of the virus could be cut significantly if "(near) universal masking" is adopted.

Hamster tests show masks reduce Covid-19 spread, say scientists
Wearing surgical masks significantly reduces COVID-19 spread, hamster tests show

Customers wearing protective masks from the coronavirus and keeping social distancing space line up to enter a Costco Wholesale store in the Van Nuys section of Los Angeles on Saturday.

"It's very clear that the effect of masking the infected, especially when they are asymptomatic - or symptomatic - it's much more important than anything else", says Yuen.

The study, which revealed the results of the three tests conducted on hamsters, showed wearing surgical masks can significantly reduce the non-contact transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus, especially when masks were worn by infected individuals.

The UK government initially said face masks could not protect people, but it has revised its advice and is now recommending people wear face coverings where they cannot remain two metres apart in settings such as small shops and on public transport.

"Up to this stage, we do not have a safe and effective vaccine".

Hong Kong suffered 298 deaths from SARS, second only to mainland China, but the territory has only reported four fatalities from COVID-19.


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