ISLAMABAD - Keeping at least two-me­tre distance from other person is significantly more effective at reduc­ing the transmission of COVID-19 than one me­tre, according to a new study published in ‘The Lancet’ journal. The sys­tematic review and meta-analysis based on 172 ob­servational studies in 16 countries by the World Health Organisation (WHO), also revealed that face masks and eye protection decrease the risk of infection, too. “Physical distancing likely results in a large re­duction of Covid-19,” said study lead author Holger Schunemann, Professor at McMaster University in Canada, who is also co-director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases. “Although the direct evi­dence is limited, the use of masks in the commu­nity provides protection, and possibly N95 or simi­lar respirators worn by health-care workers sug­gest greater protection than other face masks,” Schunemann said. The systematic review was conducted by a large, in­ternational collaborative of researchers, front-line and specialist clinicians, epidemiologists, patients, public health and health policy experts of pub­lished and unpublished literature in any lan­guage. They sought direct evidence on Covid-19 and indirect evidence on related coronaviruses causative of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) They identified no randomised control trials addressing the three coronaviruses but 44 relevant comparative studies in health-care and non-health-care (com­munity) settings across 16 countries and six con­tinents from inception to early May 2020. Analysis of data from nine studies (across SARS, MERS and Covid-19, including 7,782 participants) looking at the physical distance and virus transmission found that keeping a distance of over one metre from oth­er people was associated with a much lower risk of infection compared with less than one metre.