Should we wear cloth masks? Provincial health officer offers advice - InfoNews

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Should we wear cloth masks? Provincial health officer offers advice

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix provide an update on COVID-19 to the media.
Image Credit: Province of British Columbia
April 10, 2020 - 6:00 PM

As cloth masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through droplets, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry says it’s OK to wear them, as long as other social distancing procedures are being followed.

“What we know about the virus that causes COVID-19 is that it spreads from droplets when people who are infected with the virus cough, sneeze or expel droplets when they are in close contact (within one to two metres) with others. This is why physical distancing is so important and why self-isolation is necessary when we are ill or have recently travelled. This is also why washing our hands, covering our mouths when we cough, and not touching our face or eyes are the best actions we, as individuals, can take during the pandemic,” she said in an emailed statement.

It is also important to reserve medical masks and N95 respirators for healthcare workers, she said in the statement.

READ MORE: Super stitchers unite to create masks for health care workers

“We now know that some people can spread the virus when they have very mild symptoms or may be unaware they are infected.

“As Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, has explained, a non-medical cloth mask or face covering can help you keep your own droplets out of the air and off surfaces. Choosing to wear such a face covering is like coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve.”

However, Henry noted it will not protect you from COVID-19 and it is not required of residents to wear one.

READ MORE: Cloth masks won't protect you as well as social distancing, B.C.'s top doctor warns

“Moreover, using a cloth mask does not give you permission to disregard physical distancing and self-isolation orders. Indeed, these, along with respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, remain the key proven measures to stop transmission,” she said in the statement. “Wearing a cloth mask or face covering is a matter of personal choice. It is another tool you can choose, particularly when maintaining that important safe distance can be a challenge.”

“Our most important advice remains the same: if you are sick, you should stay home. Wearing a cloth mask may contain your virus droplets, but it does not make it okay to go out. Maintain a safe distance from others when you are out, clean your hands regularly and avoid touching your face,” she said in the statement.

Remember, don’t touch your face, even when wearing a mask, she said. “Wash it regularly and do not share it with others.”


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