Government of Canada – COVID-19 Prevention: Wearing Non-Medical Masks

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam speaks during a news conference about COVID-19. She urged Canadians to embrace social distancing. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Date Published: April 7, 2020

Source: Government of Canada

Yesterday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, advised Canadians to wear homemade cloth masks when out in public to reduce the spread of the virus. It is important to reiterate that non-medical masks are not equivalent to medical-grade masks, such as N95 masks. These homemade masks are no more effective than the widely known recommendation to cough or sneeze into a tissue or sleeve, instead of your hands or the air. Non-medical masks simply cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces. If wearing a cloth mask allows you to feel safer when out in public then you may wear it, however it is only effective if supplemented with proper hand hygiene before donning and doffing. It is ineffective if it forces you to continually touch your face and if it does not fit well to your face. Remember masks made of cloth (t-shirts or bandanas) can be soiled and contaminated easily, so they should be washed frequently. Non-medical masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19; you must strictly adhere to all other public health measures, including good hygiene and physical (social) distancing. Importantly, remember that medical-grade masks and personal protective equipment are only for healthcare workers and those providing care for COVID-19 patients. 

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Summary by: Hira Raheel