As Canada Lifts Restrictions, Mask Wearing Essential to Avoid Spikes

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Happy woman in face mask holding thumb up with national flag Canada background. Flu epidemic and virus protection concept

As businesses continue to reopen throughout Canada, COVID-19 numbers continue to steadily rise, as they are globally. However, leaders and medical professionals are working hard to try and avoid spikes in cases that might overwhelm health care and potentially lead to more mandatory shutdowns.

As specific directives on things such as mask wearing have not been mandated by federal and provincial governments in Canada, such requirements have been left up to local leaders. This has led to widely varying and rather confusing messages and rules about masks throughout Canada.

However, the testimony of medical experts worldwide continues to encourage the same thing: individual citizens, regardless of the restrictions in their area, would do well to where masks when they go out in public spaces. Doing so, many have asserted, is the single most important thing we can do to avoiding spikes in COVID-19 cases, and slowing and eventually ending the pandemic which has caused such devastation and loss of life.  

How much does mask wearing really matter?

One recent study found that 58% of COVID-19 deaths could be prevented by this fall if everyone were to being wearing masks in public spaces.

While there is no one solution to this pandemic, little actions and precautions add up, and they save lives. Non-medical masks, according to Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, can help limit the transmission of the virus in public places.

While Tam, along with many public health officials, did not immediately come out in favor of people other than medical professionals wearing masks, this hesitation was in large part due to the shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks at the onset of the outbreak.

Now producers have caught up with the demand, and high-quality, affordable masks are readily available through providers such as Breathe Safely. Strong endorsement of public mask-wearing from leaders and health officials has followed.

Does the type of mask matter?

As Dr. Tam and many other medical experts have asserted, one of the primary purposes of masks is to prevent water droplets from being spread. Any face covering provides this function, and thus even the most rudimentary and homemade mask is better than none, and helps to slow the spread of COVID-19.

However, there are certainly advantages to higher-quality masks. Certain elements in professionally-made masks are able to do a better job of preventing contagion and providing an effective barrier to contagion, as well as just water droplets.

Here are some of the elements to look for in high-quality, but still affordable and accessible, face masks:

  • Filtered reusable face masks: As you shop for reusable, washable face masks, look for those that include replaceable filters. These can be switched out with a fresh replacement filter daily, which blocks 99.997% of air pathogens.
  • Medical-grade fabric face masks: If you choose to opt for a reusable mask without filters, look for one made of medical-grade material that will help sterilize the air that passes through it.
  • KN95 face masks: A PPE that filters 95% of particles out of the air, these masks have been approved by the CDC as acceptable substitutes for N95 masks, and offer significant protection.

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