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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versión impresa ISSN 0256-9574


CHETTY, T et al. Rapid review of the effects of cloth and medical masks for preventing transmission of SARS-C6V-2 in community and household settings. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.3, pp.227-233. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: Evidence on mask use in the general population is needed to inform SARS-CoV-2 responsesOBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of cloth and medical masks for preventing SARS-CoV-2 transmission in community settingsMETHODS: Two rapid reviews were conducted searching three electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library) and two clinical trials registries on 30 and 31 March 2020RESULTS: We screened 821 records and assessed nine full-text articles for eligibility. One and seven RCTs were included for cloth and medical mask reviews, respectively. No SARS-CoV-2-specific RCTs and no cloth mask RCTs in community settings were identified. A single hospital-based RCT provided indirect evidence that, compared with medical masks, cloth masks probably increase clinical respiratory illnesses (relative risk (RR) 1.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98 - 2.49) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infections (RR 1.54; 95% CI 0.88 - 2.70). Evidence for influenza-like illnesses (ILI) was uncertain (RR 13.00; 95% CI 1.69 - 100.03). Two RCTs provide low-certainty evidence that medical masks may make little to no difference to ILI infection risk versus no masks (RR 0.98; 95% CI 0.81 - 1.19) in the community setting. Five RCTs provide low-certainty evidence that medical masks may slightly reduce infection risk v. no masks (RR 0.81; 95% CI 0.55 - 1.20) in the household settingCONCLUSIONS: Direct evidence for cloth and medical mask efficacy and effectiveness in the community is limited. Decision-making for mask use may consider other factors such as feasibility and SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics; however, well-designed comparative effectiveness studies are required

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