The research, which was conducted by BMJ Global Health, discovered that these three simple techniques were 79% effective at curbing the transmission before symptoms emerged — but weren't as protective once symptoms had developed.
Scientists behind the study said on BJM: "This study confirms the highest risk of household transmission being prior to symptom onset, but that precautionary [non-pharmaceutical interventions], such as mask use, disinfection and social distancing in households can prevent COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic."
How did they do the research?
In conduct their research, the team questioned 460 people from 124 families in Beijing, China, on their household hygiene and behaviours during the pandemic. Each household had at least one confirmed case of the coronavirus (from February to late March 2020).
The average family size was around four people, but ranged from two to nine. Most households in the study had three generations living under the same roof.
Around 36% of the children in the study caught the virus, compared to 69% of adults. Twelve children had mild symptoms, while 83% of adults had mild symptoms. In around one in 10 symptoms were severe, with one person becoming critically ill.
"The researchers wanted to know what factors might heighten or lessen the risk of subsequently catching the virus within the incubation period — 14 days from the start of that person's symptoms," explains the study.
What were their findings?
They found that using disinfectants on a daily basis, opening windows in the home and keeping at least one metre apart (with face masks) were associated with a lower risk of passing the virus — even more in crowded households. While many people wear face masks in public, their findings discovered that it's just as vital to wear them at home, too.
"Frequent use of bleach or disinfectants for household cleaning and the wearing of a face mask at home before symptoms emerged, including by the first person to have them, were associated with a reduced risk of viral transmission," the study says.
"A face mask worn before symptoms started was 79% effective, and disinfection 77% effective, at stopping the virus from being passed on."
You can read the full research findings over on BMJ Global Health.
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