Use of Masks as a Preventative Public Health Strategy to Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Use of Masks as a Preventative Public Health Strategy to Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Author Info

Corresponding Author
Wally Bartfay
Associate Dean Undergraduate Studies and Director BAHSc & BHSc Programs, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University, Canada


SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory infectious disease that has caused a global pandemic of unprecedented proportions. There has been a lot of discussion and debate in social media and by public health experts about the effectiveness of masks as a preventative strategy to decrease transmission of this virus. There are two modes in which mask may be beneficial: i) To serve as a physical barrier against the virus entering or leaving the oral-nasal passages of mask wearers, and ii) to decrease the risk that the person wearing the mask might pass the virus on to someone else (e.g., via coughing). The focus of this review is on the efficacy of different masks-types, and their demonstrated effectiveness in mitigating transmission from a global perspective. Our findings reveal that the use of commercially manufactured mask greatly decreases the distribution of COVID-19, whereas single layer homemade masks also provide protection by decreasing the viral dose of exposure and limit outward aerosol particle emissions. We argue that masks are a critical component in the arsenal of public health strategies to decrease transmission of viruses, including handwashing, maintaining social distancing (2 meters), limiting large gatherings of people, isolation of suspected cases, screening, and contact tracing.

Article Info

Article Type
Review Article
Publication history
Received: Fri 12, Feb 2021
Accepted: Sat 27, Feb 2021
Published: Thu 11, Mar 2021
© 2021 Wally Bartfay. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Hosting by Science Repository. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.31487/j.CMR.2021.01.03