Mandatory wearing face masks in public during the time of the outbreak in Italy and New York prevented thousands of cases says a study released on 11 June, in proceedings of the Natural Academy of the United States of America.

Compulsory face masks prevented more than 78,000 infections in Italy during the month when the country saw its peak and prevented more than 66,000 infections in New York City during the outbreak.

“The protective measures implemented significantly reduced the number of infections, that is, by more than 78,000 in Italy from 6 April to 9 May and more than 66,000 in New York City from 17 April to 9 May,” researchers calculated in the publication.

The researchers looked at the infection rates in New York City, Wuhan, and Italy and compared them to the dates when protective measures like social distancing, stay-at-home, and wearing masks were implemented.

Once wearing a mask became compulsory in New York City during the outbreak cases fell by 3 percent. However, cases in the rest of the United States where no such directives where issued continued to surge

Italy’s COVID-19 cases the first lockdown was implemented, social distancing, use of sanitizers, and other directives related to the pandemic didn’t reduce new infections. Once wearing face masks were made compulsory, new cases were reduced.

“The unique function of covering a face with a mask, blocks atomization and inhalation of virus-bearing aerosols accounts for the significant reduction in cases,” said researchers.

“We conclude that wearing face masks in public is the most effective means to prevent interhuman transmission in conjunction with social distancing, quarantine, and contact tracing, represents the most likely opportunity to stop the pandemic,” the research added.

At present more than 50 countries have made wearing a mask in public compulsory. Taiwan is one of the first countries to contain the virus in its initial days, the government made masks compulsory, increased its production, and delivered it to the public.

South Korea and Singapore which also fought the virus effectively made masks compulsory during the initial stage itself. Brazil which ignored the pandemic and didn’t take masks seriously is now facing the worst hit.

The United States faced the worst hit of the pandemic with cases over 2 million. States are now slowly unlocking the country as the case number reduces. However, present protests happening in the country are generating a fear that it may trigger a second wave in the country as many protestors are not adhering to rules of wearing masks and following social distancing.