There’s been a slight change in approach to advice on homemade, non-surgical masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said it comes with some caveats.
At Monday’s daily coronavirus briefing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that there were 98 new cases in Alberta in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 1348. Of that number, 204 cases are suspected to be the result of community transmission, while 361 people have now recovered.
One additional death was reported, a woman in her 80s from the McKenzie Towne long term care centre, Dr. Hinshaw said.
“I want to offer my condolences to her family and friends, and to the residents and staff of McKenzie Towne, who are grieving the loss of so many lives,” she said.
Homemade masks – do they help?
Dr. Hinshaw said she’s been getting a lot of questions around the use of face masks for the general public.
She said that they know that asymptomatic (no-symptom) transmission is becoming a larger problem. If people are taking appropriate physical distancing measures, self-isolating if you are a returning traveller, or if they’re a close contact, she said that a mask – in addition to, not a replacement of – these measures, may be an added benefit.
It may be helpful if people cannot adhere to the two-metre distancing rule.
“Wearing a non-medical mask, such as a homemade cloth mask, has not been proven to protect the person who is wearing it,” said Dr. Hinshaw.
“However, it may be helpful in protecting others around you.”
Here’s what Dr. Hinshaw said needs to happen if you’re planning to wear a homemade mask or face covering:
- Well fitted and not gate at the side
- Avoid adjusting the mask
- After wearing, assume it’s contaminated and take proper precautions
- Wash hand before putting it on and after taking it off.
- Wear cloth masks for a short time; they trap virus particles after they become damp
- Carry a bag with several clean masks in it
- Carry a plastic bag to dispose of dirty masks
- Handle the masks carefully