MASK wearing in hospital: “NO change in COVID-19 infection RATES”

… Mask wearing has been part of a package of infection control measures employed to reduce COVID-19 in hospitals throughout the pandemic

… a new study to be presented as an abstract at the 2023European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2023), in Copenhagen from 15-18 April

… The NHS mask mandate remained in place in clinical areas in hospitals until June 2022

… “retained masking at significant financial and environment cost and despite the substantial barrier to communication”

… the researchers analysed routinely collected infection control data … between 4 December 2021 … and 10 September 2022

… to examine hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections in relation to changes in mask-wearing policies over time

… During the first phase of the study (4 December 2021 to 1 June 2022) all staff and visitors were required to wear masks

… In phase two of the study, at week 26 (2 June 2022 to 10 September 2022) the surgical mask-wearing policy was removed in the majority of wards (study group)

… a subset of high-risk wards … retained the mask obligation policy for staff (control group)

… During a general community surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection in June 2022

… removal of the mask policy was not associated with a statistically significant change in the rate of hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection in the study group

… “SARS-CoV-2 infection no higher than the rate when masks were obligatory”

… “Requirements to wear surgical masks … made no discernible difference to reducing hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections,”

… Our study found no evidence that mandatory masking of staff impacts the rate of hospital SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Omicron variant