Masks: Experts weigh in on best practices during COVID-19

Because the climate cools and COVID-19 restrictions proceed to ease in some areas of the nation, Canada’s chief public well being officer has suggested Canadians to go for a masks that gives the highest quality and match.

“The identical as vaccination offers us with a necessary base layer of immune readiness safety, masks are a necessary prime layer towards virus inhalation and unfold between individuals,” Dr. Theresa Tam stated throughout a press convention on Friday.

“Heading into the winter, there are numerous causes to make sure that our prime or outer barrier layer of safety is of the highest quality and match potential. With the extremely contagious Delta variant persevering with to predominate, the chance for surges and illness exercise is prone to improve with extra time spent indoors, significantly the place there are pockets of low vaccine protection.”

Tam warned of slight “turbulence” amid rising new COVID-19 instances. Roughly 2,500 new instances have been reported every day on common over the earlier week, representing an 11 per cent improve.

Tam pointed to evolving proof on how SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — acts, specifically that it may possibly stay suspended in air in poorly ventilated areas, just like second-hand smoke.

Though extreme sickness stays steady, Tam suggested that infections must be saved down with a view to stop will increase, together with different protectionary measures comparable to correct hand hygiene and avoiding crowds.

Requested about mask-wearing on CTV Information Channel in latest days, a number of specialists agree that Canadians ought to go for a medical or surgical masks versus a fabric one, and ensure to put on them correctly.


Dr. Ronald St. John, former director-general of the Public Well being Company of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, advised CTV Information Channel on Friday that whereas vaccination charges stay excessive — about 85 per cent of these 12 years of age and older are totally vaccinated within the nation — that alone just isn’t ample to cease all transmission.

John stated masks vary in effectiveness, from the frequent light-blue medical masks to these utilized in working rooms.

“It is simply not sensible for peculiar residents to be strolling round in working room masks, so the concept is to get the very best masks even when it is the light-blue one, however put on it accurately,” St. John stated.

“Ensure that the little steel band is pressed round your nostril and it is tucked beneath your chin, together with overlaying your facial hair and so forth. That is going to be a significant deterrent for transmission. If you may get an N95 masks, even higher, but it surely’s tougher to breathe by means of an N95 masks, so it is balancing out danger.”

Dr. Dale Kalina, an infectious illness specialist at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., advised CTV Information Channel on Friday that he makes use of disposable hospital-grade masks at work, but additionally wears disposable masks at house. He says they filter out the overwhelming majority of pathogens, match properly and are simpler to breathe by means of than most fabric-based ones.

He stated many international locations, significantly in western Europe, are recommending the disposable KN95 masks, totally different from the N95 that must be fitted.

“As many have stated earlier than, together with Dr. Tam, you will need to get a masks that matches very well round your face and does not have giant gaps,” he stated.


The use and mandating of masks, together with their effectiveness, have remained controversial for some courting again to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention in the US at one level didn’t advocate mask-wearing for many who are properly, recommendation that was echoed, as properly, by the Public Well being Company of Canada (PHAC).

Tam herself at one level talked concerning the potential unfavorable points of mask-wearing, comparable to a false sense of confidence.

“But additionally, it will increase the touching of your face. If you concentrate on it, for those who’ve obtained a masks round your face typically you’ll be able to’t assist it,” she stated throughout a press convention on March 30, 2020.

Individuals’s understanding of the virus and of masks has since modified, with proof displaying that the virus may be transmitted by people who find themselves contaminated whether or not they present signs or not, with most transmission occurring indoors. Many jurisdictions even have mandated mask-wearing in sure areas to try to restrict the unfold of COVID-19.

Well being officers even have acknowledged that fully-vaccinated people can nonetheless be contaminated and transmit COVID-19, though that is a lot much less seemingly, as is the prospect of significant an infection, in comparison with those that are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. There is also proof that vaccine safety might wane in some cases.

Nonetheless, PHAC now notes that “when layered with different beneficial public well being measures, a well-constructed, well-fitting and correctly worn masks might help stop the unfold of COVID-19.”

Particularly, the company says masks might help comprise a person’s personal respiratory particles and stop or scale back the quantity of infectious particles an individual inhales, particularly if a masks is well-made and suits correctly.

On CTV Information Channel on Friday, Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency room doctor based mostly in Toronto, described sporting the fitting masks as akin to a “superpower,” offering “final” safety in an indoor area the place the virus could also be floating round.

On masks, Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, an intensive care unit and palliative care physician based mostly in Ottawa, advised CTV Information Channel on Saturday that individuals who should be frightened about getting COVID-19, comparable to those that are older or have comorbidities, might wish to take into consideration the standard of their face coverings or conditions the place the chance of transmission could also be increased.

Commenting on mask-wearing Friday, Cynthia Carr of Epi Analysis Inc. in Winnipeg cautioned individuals to not let down their guard and simply “slap” on a masks and let it come unfastened.

“It must be a well-fitted masks, it must be clear and it’s essential put on it constantly and never type of pull it down under your nostril once in a while. That may be a danger and we shouldn’t be doing it,” she stated.

Dr. Christopher Labos, a heart specialist and epidemiologist based mostly in Montreal, additionally stated Friday that as a result of provide is not a lot of a problem, he stated the highest quality masks most individuals want is a surgical one, whereas a well-manufactured fabric masks with a filter in between may also be an inexpensive different.

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