Canadians should wear masks to protect others when in public: Tam

Canadians should wear masks to protect others when in public: Tam

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, are making a "recommendation" that Canadians wear a non-medical mask when they can not maintain a two-metre physical distance.

"Use of non-medical or face coverings is recommended as an added layer of protection", she said. And she said people should see it as a way to protect other people, noting when two people are both wearing masks, they are each protecting the other.

"That's my personal choice, that is aligned, I think, with what public health is recommending".

Tam told reporters in Ottawa Thursday that "this is quite a hard period" because people are getting worn out from isolating at home, which can lead them to forget the core public health directives. "We are asking you to keep your circle of friends and family as small and reasonable as possible, especially if you have a vulnerable person in your family, or a child who attends daycare". In doing so, employers should consider whether there are any occupational risks to implementing a face covering policy, including any potential psychological impacts or physical safety risks. More than 50 countries have made wearing a mask mandatory.

Canadian health officials once recommended against the wearing of face masks but adjusted that advice in early April when it became clear COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren't showing symptoms.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says individual actions will be key to controlling an expected second wave of COVID-19, and he is repeating a call for people to wear masks in public. That understanding has changed, as it is now known people can transmit the virus days before symptoms show up.

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She added it is still only a recommendation because each region in Canada needs to be able to do a risk assessment on community transmission in their local area. She said the tried-and-true public health measures of testing, contact tracing, handwashing and physical distancing have worked to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

But "in situations where I'm either walking through the halls of Parliament or going to my office and coming in proximity to people, I've chosen to start wearing a mask". She said it may help to practise wearing the mask for 20 minutes inside your home to make sure you comfortable. "It is not a recommendation, it is a permissive use, if you will". "So just be patient, and don't assume that someone who isn't wearing a mask or is wearing something different, doesn't have an actual reason for it".

The measures are essential because COVID-19 remains a serious health threat and the economy can't fully recover until Canadians are confident any new outbreaks of the novel coronavirus will be contained, he said.

Mary Johnston said, "I've been wearing masks for a while now".

"When it is possible for me to keep two metres distance from people, that is what I prefer to do", he said.

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