As many provinces across Canada begin to ease public health restrictions and gradually opening their economies, federal public health officials are now officially recommending people to wear non-medical masks to protect other people from the novel coronavirus in circumstances where physical distancing is not possible. After initially advising against the use of non-medical facemasks, federal health officials said that asymptomatic individuals could wear non-medical facemasks when in public as an additional measure to avoid the virus transmission via droplets but they didn’t state it as an official recommendation.
The chief medical officer of health of Canada said that updated recommendations on the use of non-medical masks amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be posted on the official website of the government later on Wednesday. Dr. Theresa Tam said some evidence suggests that highly contagious coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers who aren’t showing symptoms.
However, Tam has emphasized that the use of a facemask whether non-medical or medical does not replace “fundamental” measures for controlling the spread of the deadly coronavirus, like washing hands frequently and staying two meters apart from each other. Health officials said that these preventive measures should continue as the absolute minimum through the spring and summer months and encouraged that staying home if feeling sick is a must.
In response to the journalist who asked whether the updated recommendations of wearing non-medical masks might encourage the false sense of security, the deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo said that it is a concern and health officials don’t want the public to think that they can stop following the other health measures which are clearly effective and highly recommended. This is just a supplementary preventive measure.
Tam and Njoo said that avoid touching your face or don’t let others touch your mask and consider wearing a mask that is washable. Ahead of the update by the federal public health agency, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about his personal approach of wearing a mask; including how and when he covers his face. Trudeau shared that he prefers to maintain a two-meter distance from others but has chosen to cover his face when that’s not possible.
The Canadian prime minister said that in circumstances where he is either strolling through the lobbies of Parliament or heading off to his office and coming in proximity to other individuals, he has decided to start wearing a facemask noting he would wear a mask entering Parliament on Wednesday for the House of Commons’ in-person sitting.
He shared that when he is at his desk in Parliament and two meters separate from every other person, I will remove my cover so I can take part in the parliamentary talk. But when he leaves his seat and walk past other individuals, walkthrough conceivably busier passages, he will be covering his face with a mask. He mentioned that it is his own decision that is aligned with what public health is suggesting, yet all people need to change in accordance with what works in these conditions and keep our safety at the front line of what we’re doing.
In an interview, Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said that the only way non-medical facemask is effective is if it properly covers both the mouth and nose. With little data available on the efficacy of these homemade non-medical masks, Kwong predicted that these masks are probably not as effective as the medical masks but added that some protection is still better than no protection.