While the primary driver of COVID-19 transmission is by people who are symptomatic, there is increasing evidence that some COVID-19 infected people who never develop symptoms or are not yet sick are able to transmit the virus. Sometimes the symptoms are so mild that people don't pay attention to them.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is now recommending wearing a non-medical mask in the community even if you have no symptoms, as an additional measure to protect others around you. Non-medical or cloth face coverings can play an important role in situations and community settings where physical distancing is not possible or is unpredictable (such as on public transit or in grocery stores) and when the local epidemiology and rate of community transmission warrant it. For more information see Fact Sheet: Wearing of Masks in Community Settings.
A non-medical mask does not replace public health measures that are proven to be effective. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to continue to:
- stay home as much as possible;
- practise physical distancing;
- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water; and
- cover your cough or sneezes with tissues or your sleeve.
Wearing a non-medical mask will not prevent you from getting sick. It is another way of covering your mouth and nose to prevent your respiratory droplets from contaminating others or landing on surfaces.
Non-medical masks or cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
People should also be aware that masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched by hands.
- Avoid moving the mask around or adjusting it often.
- Masks should not be shared with others.
Canadians who choose to wear a non-medical mask need to understand their limitations and how to safely use them. Information on how to make a non-medical mask, how to properly put on or remove a non-medical mask, and their limitations can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada website.