Non-medical masks may prevent spread of coronavirus: Alberta Health Officer

Apr 7 2020, 2:17 pm

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer has said that non-medical masks may be useful in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the announcement in a press conference Monday afternoon, stating that new information continues to come out about the virus.

“Our knowledge of this virus and how it spreads continues to grow,” said Hinshaw.

According to Hinshaw, there has been information that has recently come to light on how those who are asymptomatic may continue to spread illness.

“Our Canadian special advisory committee has been looking closely at the evidence around this, and yesterday we determined, that we need to expand our approach to take this emerging evidence into account in our measures,” said Hinshaw.

“One of the major implications of this is the use of face masks by those who are feeling well.”

Evidence has shown, Hinshaw said, that those who eventually get sick, may pass on infection in the day or two before their symptoms actually start.

“What seems to be emerging from more recent data, is that outside of China, this asymptomatic spread appears to be happening more often than we had thought,” said Hinshaw.

“What we know is that people who are sick, spread illness.”

The new information points to the fact that in order to protect others, non-medical face masks can now be used along with previous recommendations such as physical distancing and self-isolating when ill.

“In addition to, not in place of, following all of that advice, there may be added benefit for those who are well and in places where they cannot keep two metres distant from others to wear a face covering,” said Hinshaw.

“Wearing a non-medical mask, such as a home-made cloth mask, has not been known to protect the person who is wearing it. However, it may be helpful in protecting others around you. This is because face coverings are another way to protect your mouth and nose to prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or surfaces.”

Additionally, wearing a mask may stop you from touching your nose or mouth

For those who do choose to wear a non-medical mask, Hinshaw suggests they follow a few guidelines, that she shared on Twitter.

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