There is growing evidence that people infected with COVID-19 are able to transmit the virus before they develop symptoms, said Dr. Theresa Tam at a daily press conference on Monday.
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Similarly, new evidence shows that some people who have the virus but never develop symptoms are also capable of transmitting the virus, said the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.
“Wearing a non-medical mask, even if you have no symptoms, is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you in situations where physical distance is difficult to maintain, such as when traveling common or maybe at the grocery store, ”says Tam.
“A non-medical mask can reduce the risk of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces. “
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Wearing a non-medical mask in the community, however, “has not been proven to protect the person wearing it,” Tam reiterated.
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The new recommendation also does not mean that residents should “abandon” public health measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Tam added.
“You should continue to practice physical remoteness and good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and disinfecting very sensitive surfaces regularly,” she said.
Tam said that it was still unclear how important presymptomatic and asymptomatic transmission played a part in “driving” the pandemic, but officials know it is happening.
“It is clear that transmission of the virus occurs more often than previously thought from infected people just before they develop symptoms,” she said.
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Tam also called on Canadians to stop supplying medical masks for healthcare workers, which is in line with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), which also broke into the mask debate on Monday.
WHO said it “assessed” the wider use of medical and non-medical masks in the midst of the pandemic and issued “guidelines and criteria to help countries” when considering their health recommendations public.
“For example, countries could consider using masks in communities where other measures such as hand washing and physical distance are more difficult to achieve due to lack of water or poor living conditions “Said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Tedros said there is “limited research” on the use of masks in the general population and asked countries considering their wider use “to study their effectiveness so that we can all learn”.
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New Ottawa guidelines for non-medical masks come three days after new federal guidelines in the United States were recommended, advising citizens to cover their faces while away from home to help slow down the spread of the virus.
As of April 6, there were 15,806 confirmed cases of new coronavirus in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
To date, the deaths of 293 people have been linked to the virus in the country, the agency said.
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