People wear masks as they leave the COVID-19 testing facility Friday, March 27, 2020 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Health officials are now saying wearing a non-medical mask can help Canadians not pass along the novel coronavirus, even before they develop symptoms.

On Monday (April 6), Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the special advisory committee has come to a consensus that “wearing a non medical mask even if you have no symptoms is an additional measure to protect others around you” in places where it is hard to guarantee physical distancing, such as grocery stores and public transit.

However, Tam noted wearing a mask does not mean Canadians can stop physically distancing, self-isolating or hand-washing measures..

“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it,” she said.

Tam said that non-medical masks could prevent the spread of COVID-19 from infected people who either have no symptoms or have not developed them yet. However, medical masks, such as N95s, must be saved for healthcare workers who need them, she added.

When questioned about why Canada is only now recommending non-medical masks, Tam said “the evidence is actually still quite weak” that the measure could help prevent asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread.

“These are very recent studies that have just come out,” she said.

Tam said Canadians can use materials they have at home such as cotton shirts, sheets and bandanas.

Some young people dying from COVID-19, Tam says

Across Canada, 339,000 tests have revealed at least 15,822 cases of COVID-19, the country’s chief medical officer said. About five per cent of those being tested are coming in positive.

Tam said 293 people have died due to the virus, including some in their 20s. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the 38 people who have died due to the virus in the province have been between 64 and 94 years old.

“Although older ages are most at risk, no one can predict when critical illness will strike someone at any age,” Tam said.

Canadian officials have been criticized for not testing more people, but Tam said the government is working on making quicker tests available. Currently, the groups being prioritized for outbreaks, cluster detection, healthcare workers and highly vulnerable communities.

READ MORE: As 240K apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Paid sick leave a must going forward

The chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, on this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Courier continues through home work

Willow Street office in Chemainus no longer being utilized

Ladysmith A&W plans community Rod Run for June 4

Cruisin’ the Dub will look a little different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Chemainus Public Market vendors venture outdoors

Different functions in the works to appeal to all tastes

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Most Read