Canada is looking into the possibility of disinfecting and reusing face masks
Health officials in Canada are looking into ways they can be reusing, disinfecting and decontaminating face masks says the country's public health chief, Dr. Theresa Tam.
Speaking at her daily COVID-19 press briefing Sunday, Dr. Tham said public health officials are actively looking into how to best look after the country's limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
"Part of it is the science of decontamination of what works, and secondly we are looking at multiple entities in Canada that might be able to actually do this," she said.
"Also, then signalling to provinces and territories that certain things shouldn't be thrown away right now so that we can actually implement this should we find the actual people who can do this," she continued.
"It is one of the most important and I think worthwhile lines of pursuit for PPE right now."
Dr. Tham also said Canada is having an active discussion about the country's mask recommendations for the general public.
Public health officials across Canada have repeatedly recommended against asymptomatic people wearing masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19.
Dr. Tam has specifically advised against wearing medical-grade masks in order to ensure there's enough supply for healthcare workers, and she continues to emphasize this.
She has also previously said that masks can give a false sense of security and, if used incorrectly, can actually contribute to the transmission of the virus.
On Sunday, Dr. Tham said Canada is looking into changing its non-medical mask recommendations but the discussion is ongoing.
Canadians have already started wearing homemade masks, but without necessary information from public health on how to wear them, how to take them off without contamination, and how to wash them properly. The delay is unacceptable at this point— Robyn Urback (@RobynUrback) April 5, 2020
She said non-medical masks haven't been proven to protect the person wearing it from getting he virus, but they can protect others around that person.
"Everyone must still practice strict hygienic measures and the social distancing measures. Stay home if you're sick," she said.
"Wearing a non-medical mask is an additional measure that we're considering to protect others around you. It's a matter of you protecting others."
Dr. Tham said Canada is actively reviewing the evidence with the provinces and territories and they'll have more information soon.
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