Pedestrians wear masks in Toronto on Friday as residents engage in social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Health experts say the rise in COVID-19 cases from community transmission makes it more difficult to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Canada. For the time being, both the WHO and Canadian officials say masks are only needed for those who have the virus, and those in close contact with them (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

COVID-19: To mask or not to mask?

With infection cases now rising rapidly in the U.S.,there is more debate about whether people should wear face masks to limit the spread of the infection.

Currently, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Teresa Tam, maintains the position that  face masks can reduce the spread of the coronavirus when worn by someone infected, they provide little protection to healthy people who wear them.

In a press conference on Monday she added they may in fact provide a false sense of security to healthy people who may also be touching their faces more often when wearing them through putting them on, taking them off, and making adjustments while wearing them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also maintains the position that those infected should wear masks as well as people caring for the sick. They do not recommend healthy people wear masks.

Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Teresa Tam during a press conference on Monday says it is critical to ensure mask supplies for medical workers, adding if you are not infected, wearing a mask is not beneficial and it may also lead to you touching your face more often and possibly infecting yourself through the virus picked up on your fingers from touching surfaces. (via CBC)

US debating mandatory masking; some European countries already there

The mask debate is now arising in the United States where the virus infection numbers are increasing,  Apparently officials at the U.S Centres for Disease Control (CDC) are considering altering the official stance which currently echoes that of the WHO.

Dr Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the U.S. Speaking on the CNN show Newsroom he said the CDC is actively discussing the situation, adding, “The thing that has inhibited that a bit is to make sure we don’t take away the supply of masks from the health care workers who need them,” Fauci added. “But when we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks”

Some European countries have now mandated masks.

Austria has ordered that those entering  supermarkets and other stores must wear masks. These are now being handed out at entrances.

The Czech Republic has mandated wearing of masks  as has neighbouring Slovakia, which has resulted in any number of homemade masks being worn.

Germany at this point is considering adopting some form of mandatory mask wearing following Austria’s move.

In Asian countries where mask wearing has long been more common, officials there say ‘westerners’ could reduce the spread of the virus if everyone was wearing masks.

additional information-sources

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