“But in the middle of a pandemic, we’re desperate.
“The thinking is that even if it cuts down transmission a little bit, it’s worth trying.”
The study, which was conducted before the deadly pandemic, could influence how governments tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Dr Milton has already advised the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on his findings, which were published in the journal Nature Medicine on April 3.
In the study, Dr Milton and co-authors wrote: “Surgical face masks significantly reduced detection of influenza virus RNA in respiratory droplets and coronavirus RNA in aerosols, with a trend toward reduced detection of coronavirus RNA in respiratory droplets.