Non-medical masks may help prevent spread of COVID-19, health officials say

By | April 6, 2020

Manitobans can help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by wearing non-medical masks, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says.

While symptomatic people account for most of the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, there is growing evidence of asymptomatic spread as well, and wearing a covering can help prevent that, Roussin said at a news conference Monday morning.

“If you choose to wear a non-medical mask, if you go out in the public, you may be protecting others,” he said.

However, that still isn’t the best way to protect others, Roussin said.

“I don’t want [masks] to be a distraction. The real message is to stay home.”

Previously, Roussin said masks aren’t necessary to protect people from COVID-19.

Messages from public health officials are changing as new scientific evidence is introduced, he said.

There have been 204 cases in the province between March 10 and April 6, public health officials say. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

“Our goal is to provide Manitobans with the best possible advice. Our goal isn’t to remain consistent, but respond to the information as it comes,” he said.

People who wear masks should clean them frequently, be careful not to touch their mouth, nose or eyes with them and clean their hands often, he said.

Roussin’s comments come after a similar message from the nation’s top doctor.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam spoke with reporters on Parliament Hill, Monday. 2:22

Dr. Theresa Tam, the federal chief public health officer, said Monday that Canadians can use non-medical masks together with social distancing measures to limit the transmission of the deadly virus when out grocery shopping or at a pharmacy.

“Wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that you can take to protect others around you,” Tam said — while warning that a non-medical mask doesn’t necessarily protect the person wearing it.

“A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces.”

Manitoba has one new case of the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of lab-confirmed and probable positive cases to 204 on Monday, Roussin said.

There are still 11 people in hospital and seven in intensive care, he said.

As of April 4, 12,514 COVID-19 tests had been performed in Manitoba. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

The Cadham Provincial Lab completed 458 tests on Sunday; as of Monday, a total of 13,476 tests have been performed

Roussin reiterated people should stay home and not go out in public, even to places of worship, especially given upcoming religious holidays, including Passover, Easter and Ramadan.

“We know from other jurisdictions that a lot of transmission has occurred at faith-based gatherings,” he said.

“You’re not only putting yourself at risk but all Manitobans at risk when you attend gatherings like this.”

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