Should Canadians Wear Non-Medical Face Masks?

Connor Garel
·2-min read

The conditions of how to stay safe and healthy in the time of the coronavirus seem to be changing every day. It can feel confusing, and face masks are a topic of particular debate.

Early on, in addition to physical distancing, it was suggested that only those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or those tending to a sick person, should be wearing face masks. The World Health Organization currently maintains that stance.

But, over the weekend, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had a change of heart. It reversed its own long-standing position, recommending, instead, that we all wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g. grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

Canada revises its position, too

Then, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said on Monday, “The special advisory committee on COVID-19 has come to a consensus that wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you.”

It’s intended as a matter of precaution. Recent studies have shown a considerable portion of persons infected with the novel coronavirus don’t show symptoms of the virus at all (“asymptomatic”), and that it’s possible to transmit it before showing any signs of having it (“pre-symptomatic”).

In plain language: you could be infected with COVID-19 and not know it.

So, we should behave as if we and everyone around us has COVID-19.

Tam echoed the CDC, saying that non-medical masks can help you protect others around you when you can’t maintain that six feet of distance.

There are select scenarios in which it is still recommended that people wear face masks.
There are select scenarios in which it is still recommended that people wear face masks.

What does this mean for me as a Canadian resident?

Everyone can and must do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Canadian health officials have said repeatedly. Wearing a non-medical face in high-risk situations is one of many prevention tactics...

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