Health officials in Canada are recommending the use of non-medical face masks or coverings as an “added layer of protection” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Canada Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement in a press conference Wednesday while providing an update on the pandemic in Canada.
“Where COVID-19 related activity is happening, the use of non-medical masks or face coverings is recommended, as an added layer of protection when physical distancing is difficult to maintain,” said Dr. Tam in the press conference.
“For the spring and summer months, strict adherence to the public health basics of physical distancing, hand washing, and cough etiquette must continue as the bare minimum.”
As of Tuesday, at 9:15 am PT, Canada has a total of 79,491 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
There have been 5,955 deaths from coronavirus in the country, and 51% of all cases have now recovered, with recoveries totalling 40,342 so far.
Over one million Canadians have been tested for coronavirus, with 5% overall testing positive.
In terms of masks, Tam reiterated that masks protect others, not those that are wearing them, adding that if two people are wearing masks, they are both more likely to be protected.
“The chief medical officer’s position from the start was that of course, these masks protect others, so if you’re wearing it, you’re protecting other people from your droplets,” said Dr. Tam.
“It is when we got more evidence about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals, although, we don’t fully understand their role in transmission, it is an added layer of protection even for people who don’t have symptoms to prevent transmission to others.”
Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, added that medical masks are to be reserved for healthcare workers.
“Medical-grade masks must be reserved for healthcare workers. But for the general public, if we find ourselves in circumstances where it’s not possible to maintain social distance from other people, it is an extra layer of protection,” said Dr. Njoo.
“It depends on the circumstances, too, however. The epidemiology varies from one region to another. If you are using public transportation in Montreal, that is a completely different situation than being in the Yukon, up north,” said Dr. Njoo
As more people go out in the community, Tam added there will be more people on public transport or in retail, and masks are recommended in places where two metres of distance is not able to be maintained.
“If two people are wearing masks, I’m protecting you, and you’re protecting me,” said Dr. Tam.