Physical Distancing, Facing Coverings Work

June 5, 2020
Keeping at least one meter (three feet) from other people as well as wearing face coverings and eye protection, in and outside of healthcare settings, could be the best way to reduce the chance of viral infection or transmission of COVID-19, according to a study published in The Lancet. The study was based on a review and meta-analysis of 172 observational studies in 16 countries.

However, none of these interventions, even when properly used and combined, give complete protection from infection, and the authors note that some of the findings, particularly around face masks and eye protection, are supported by low-certainty evidence, with no completed randomized trials addressing COVID-19 for these interventions.

The study, conducted to inform World Health Organization guidance documents, is the first time researchers have systematically examined the optimum use of these protective measures in both community and healthcare settings for COVID-19. The authors say it has immediate and important implications for curtailing the current COVID-19 pandemic and future waves by informing disease models, and standardizing the definition of who has been potentially exposed (i.e., within 2 meters) for contact tracing.