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

COLUMN: Books come back with curbside pickup

Okanagan Regional Library begins first phase of reopening process

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Golden police seek Good Samaritan after house fire

An unidentified individual may have saved lives in the early-morning fire.

Revelstoke lawyer uses her good fortune to help others

For Melissa Klages, lawyer and owner of Arrow Law Corporation, being a… Continue reading

Revelstoke maternity team keeps mom grounded during COVID-19

Melyssa Hudson gave birth to her second child April 29

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Douglas fir trees in Salmon Arm face attack from bark beetle

Online pamphlet can help residents learn how to protect their trees

Power knocked out for 1,700 Lake Country residents

BC Hydro crews on scene to restore the outage

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

Truck thief runs out of gas in North Okanagan

Pickup stolen from Coldstream, found not far away

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

Okanagan film society screening for scholarships

North Okanagan students pursuing creative arts can apply for $2,000 bursaries

B.C. residents can now reserve a provincial campsite for a stay starting June 1

Campsite reservations will only be available to British Columbians

Most Read