MASK OF CORO Wear a face mask at HOME to stop the spread of coronavirus through your household

FACE masks should be worn at home to stop the spread of coronavirus through households, scientists say.

The Government urged Brits to wear face coverings in public spaces — where social distancing isn’t possible — to prevent the spread of Covid-19 earlier this month.

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Scientists say face masks should be worn at home to stop the spread of coronavirus through households
Scientists say face masks should be worn at home to stop the spread of coronavirus through householdsCredit: Getty Images — Getty
However, researchers in China say face masks should now also be worn at home to help ward off the spread of Covid-19 infection among family members living under the same roof.

They say that this practice is 79 per cent effective at curbing coronavirus transmission through households — but only before symptoms emerge in the first person infected.

The researchers made the recommendation after questioning 460 people from 124 families in Beijing, China, on their household hygiene and behaviours during the pandemic.

Each family had at least one laboratory confirmed case of Covid-19 infection between late February and late March 2020.

Risk lessened
The average family size was four, but ranged from two to nine, and was usually made up of three generations.

Family members were defined as those who had lived with the infected person for four days before and more than 24 hours after that person’s symptoms first appeared.

The researchers wanted to know what factors might heighten or lessen the risk of subsequently catching the virus within the incubation period — 14 days from the start of that person’s symptoms.

During this time, secondary transmission — spread from the first infected person to other family members — occurred in 41 out of the 124 families.

A total of 77 adults and children were infected in this way, giving an ‘attack rate’ of 23 per cent or around one in four.

Around a third of the study children caught the virus (36 per cent) compared with more than two thirds of the adults (just over 69.5 per cent).

Twelve of the children had mild symptoms; one had none. Most (83 per cent) of the adults had mild symptoms; in around one in ten, symptoms were severe, and one person became critically ill.

Daily use of disinfectants, window opening, and keeping at least one metre apart were associated with a lower risk of passing on the virus, even in more crowded households.

However, in particular, the researchers noted that a face mask worn before symptoms started was 79 per cent effective, and disinfection 77 per cent effective, at stopping the virus from being passed on.

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