The B.C. government says a COVID-19 fact sheet, downplaying the effectiveness of a mask in keeping oneself safe from viral infection, is outdated.
This comes after the one-page fact sheet, bearing the logos of the provincial ministry of health and the BC Centre for Disease Control, circulated social media in the South Okanagan.
A copy was recently received at the Summerland Review.
The sheet, titled Coronavirus Protection, lists seven suggestions in point form.
The first six are items which have been mentioned time and again, including washing hands, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces and staying home when sick.
The seventh point states, “wearing a mask is not an effective measure to keep yourself safe from viral infection.”
The fact sheet, although originated from the BC Centre of Disease Control, is now an obsolete document, according to the government.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Shannon Greer said the COVID-19 fact sheet was created by the BC Centre for Disease Control, but was removed from the website and from distribution in May after public health began recommending the use of non-medical masks in situations where one cannot keep a safe distance from others.
The province and the BC Centre for Disease Control have advocated wearing non-medical face masks as a way of slowing the spread of the virus.
The BC Centre for Disease Control also has information about the use of non-medical masks, stating that masks do not replace other preventative measures.
“Masks, face coverings and gloves are the least protective measures for reducing transmission of COVID-19. Masks, when worn properly and for short periods, may offer some protection especially when you are not able to keep a 2 metre distance from others,” a statement on the BC Centre for Disease Control website reads.
The centre includes information on cloth masks, other cloth face coverings including bandanas and scarves, industrial respirators and medical personal protective equipment.
They explain cloth masks should cover the nose and mouth and should fit snugly and securely, yet still allowing the wearer to breathe easily.
Medical personal protective equipment, such as medical and surgical masks and medical N95 respirators are listed by the BC Centre for Disease Control as well, but these pieces of equipment should be reserved for health care workers, not the general public.
“Non-medical masks are meant to protect other people in case you are infected and are recommended to be used in situations when physical distancing is challenging (i.e…public transportation),” said Greer.
“COVID-19 is spread through infected droplets from a sick person’s mouth or nose. Wearing a mask when you are sick, helps protect people around you from the droplets that carry the virus. It does not guarantee that you, as the wearer, are protected.”
For those who are healthy, wearing a non-medical or cloth mask or face covering can help to protect others. This is because some people can spread the virus when they have very mild symptoms or may not know that they are infected. In this case, wearing a mask can help protect others by containing your own droplets when talking, coughing or sneezing.
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