Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Face masks are devices worn over the mouth and nose to protect against splashes, infectious respiratory droplets, or aerosols generated during breathing or coughing according to their filtering capacity. Medical masks, respirators, or cloth masks have been used for source control and for the protection of the exposed. After the first case on March 11, 2020, in Turkey, National COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board published various contents for the correct use of masks. Medical face masks have been used in healthcare settings for both source control and potential personal protection before the COVID-19 pandemic. Adverse events associated with using masks are very sparse and mainly associated with tight-fitting respirators or dermatitis due to prolonged use and should not be a reason for refusal to use. Studies suggest the use of masks mainly in the healthcare facilities but also in the community for source control of people who have respiratory symptoms of communicable diseases other than COVID-19. They are likely to be acceptable if recommended, particularly in more severe epidemics and pandemics. Metaanalysis, case control, cross sectional, cohort, retrospective, retrospective cross sectional, research, randomized controlled, and controlled comparison studies were reviewed on the protective effect of masks on COVID-19 with laboratory evidence. Optimum use of face masks with additional precautions has been found to be useful controlling the spread of the respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 in most of the studies and metaanalyses. As a conclusion, the recent evidence in COVID-19 pandemic is consistent with the previous studies which have shown association between face mask use and decreased risk of viral infections, and medical face mask use should be encouraged both for the community and healthcare facilities along with other infection control measures such as hand hygiene, during outbreaks when there is widespread community transmission.

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