Canada has strict regulations governing personal protective equipment for medical use. (iStock)

Government issues warning against unlicensed  PPE

Canada’s health department is advising Canadians to discard personal protective equipment sold by Maskopia (formally known as Medkem Canada Inc) as it may not provide the protection advertised. Maskopia is based in Brampton in the province of Ontario and Health Canada says it has not obtained the Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL)  required to import or sell PPE for medical use. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an international scramble to obtain PPE. To meet the urgent need Health Canada sped up the processes used to approve such equipment. However, there are rules and this recall suggests they are being enforced. 

Health Canada’s warning refers to Maskopia products being sold through social media and websites such as Kijiji including N95 and K95 masks, gowns, face shields, cloth masks advertised as surgical masks, disposable surgical masks, latex and vinyl gloves. 

The company had applied for authorization to sell its gowns but Health Canada refused saying they did not meet all the requirements. It ordered the company to stop sales but Maskopia continued to sell its isolation gowns to consumers and health care practitioners.

Health Canada has seized Maskopia products and is asking the public to immediately stop using and dispose of PPE purchased from Maskopia. It also invites people to learn more about buying health products that “make unauthorized claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19” and the risks that could pose. It also asks people to report to Health Canada any information on the sale or advertising of non-compliant COVID-19 health products. 

Non-medical masks are not regulated and there is a great variation in the kinds and quality that are for sale. (Lei7/iStock)

Masks withdrawn from Quebec daycares

Since May 20, 2020, Health Canada has advised Canadians to wear face non-medical masks when they are not able to keep a distance of two meters from other people, and when their local rate of community transmission of COVID-19 warrants it. Non-medical masks are not regulated by the government. However if a manufacturer claims its mask will protect the user from contracting COVID-19 or makes certain other claims it is subject to regulation. There is great variation in kinds and quality of non-medical masks sold across the country.

The government of the province of Quebec has warned daycare workers to stop using a certain kind of masks that its own officials distributed, according to the public broadcaster, Radio-Canada. The masks were sent to more than 16,000 daycare centres between May and November. The problem was discovered by a private, non profit research organization that focuses on worker health and safety, notes Radio-Canada. The masks were supposed to meet three criteria: efficiency in filtering bacteria, breathability and resistance to liquids. It was not clear which of these criteria were not met.  The government had already been sending new masks to the daycares which it assures meet all the safety requirements.

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