Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer says non-medical masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, now said today that Canadians can use non-medical masks in addition to current social distancing measures to help slow down and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“Wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you,” said Dr. Tam, the top doctor at Public Health Agency of Canada. However, she also warned that wearing a non-medical mask does not necessarily protect the person wearing it.

“A non-medical mask can reduce the chances of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces”

 The announcement was made in response to new “emerging information” within the science and medical community in which Dr. Theresa Tam said that wearing a mask, either medical or non-medical, can help prevent pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people from inadvertently infecting others with COVID-19. 

Dr. Tam said Canadians shouldn’t wear medical-grade masks like the N95, as those supplies have to be reserved for medical professionals.

With shortages in supplies of medical masks for frontline healthcare workers, it would not be surprising that even people outside of this field will have a hard time finding both medical and non-medical masks during the pandemic. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States also published a news release that recommended wearing a cloth face covering.

The CDC recommends that a cloth face-covering/mask should:

  • Fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the user’s face, 
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops,
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction,
  • Be able to be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

Instructions on how to create a cloth face mask can be found on the CDC website

Both the Canada and U.S. health agencies have recommended people avoid crowded places and keep a distance of at least two metres – two arms’ lengths — from others as much as possible.

The Public Health Agency of Canada warned on its website that wearing a mask alone will not stop COVID-19. The agency recommends you wash your hands before putting it on and after taking it off.

Face masks can become contaminated on the outside or when they’re touched by hands. The agency recommends that people avoid touching their face masks while wearing them and change their cloth masks as soon as they get damp or soiled.

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