Research has shown that widespread use of face masks have little or no effect on reducing the spread of upper respiratory infections, according to a report presented a government-appointed working group led by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (MSAH) on Friday.
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“There is no scientific evidence for its use,” Emerita Professor Marjukka Mäkelä said at a press briefing to unveil the report.
The report was commissioned by the government to determine if there were grounds to recommend the widespread use of masks to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. It looked at commercial mouth and nose coverings for use by members of the public as well as home-made masks.
The writers of the report reviewed scientific research on the use of protective masks and also examined mask practices and guidelines in several other countries.
Research circumstances different
The public health officials said that five of eight systematic reviews found no evidence that the use of masks would provide any benefit in controlling sources of infection or protecting healthy persons from exposure to respiratory infections. Three reviews were cautiously positive in this regard.
According to Mäkelä, it was difficult to apply the research findings to the Covid-19 epidemic in Finland because public mask usage would be taking place in circumstances that are very different from the ones in which the random studies were conducted.
The ministry will present a separate proposal on the matter in the near future, officials said.
“Now that we have the report, we will begin to consider what our proposal is,” MSAH permanent secretary Kirsi Varhila said.
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