OTTAWA — Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top public-health doctor, said Monday that wearing a simple cloth mask is a way for someone who might have COVID-19 without realizing it to avoid spreading the illness to others
Here is that story — Non-medical masks can keep people with COVID-19 from spreading it, Tam says — and below is the federal government's latest guidance on COVID-19 and masks:
— Wearing a non-medical mask — such as a homemade, cotton covering — is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you.
— It is another way to cover your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces.
— Like the recommendation not to cough into your hands (instead, cover your cough with tissues or your sleeve), a mask can reduce the chance of others coming into contact with your respiratory droplets.
— Medical masks, including surgical, medical-procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health-care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
— Wearing a non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical distancing, will reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus.
— If wearing a non-medical mask makes you feel safer and stops you from touching your nose and mouth, that is also good. But remember not to touch or rub your eyes.
If you choose to use a non-medical face mask:
— You must wash your hands immediately before putting it on and immediately after taking it off (in addition to practising good hand hygiene while wearing it);
— It should fit well (non-gaping);
— You should not share it with others.
Face masks can become contaminated on the outside, or when touched by your hands. When wearing a mask, take the following precautions to protect yourself:
— Avoid touching your face mask while using it;
— Change a cloth mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled;
— Put a worn mask directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of.
— Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle, and then dried thoroughly.
— Non-medical masks that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled.
— Dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin.
(Source: Government of Canada)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2020.
The Canadian Press