COVID-19 feels to be consuming the lives of Canadians, but the first step back to normalcy starts at home. As B.C. slowly begins to reopen there are some unrequired but necessary means we should all be taking to ensure the safety of both ourselves and others; the use of masks. Masks are the most critical factor in prevention for a simple reason, COVID is spread through droplets. Every time a person simply speaks these droplets are being dispensed throughout the air, thus covering these areas prevents both dispersal and intake of said droplets. As many Canadians are new to the idea of masks entering public life- here is what you need to know.
The World Health Organization(WHO), The Government of Canada, and The BC Centre for Disease Control all recommend them. You are not the exception. Ensure that you use a mask in public spaces and public transport especially where physical distance cannot be guaranteed. An essential factor to remember when faced with the next phase of opening up the country is that many people are asymptomatic. Though no one around seems to be coughing, sneezing or struggling to breathe, they may still have COVID.
Not only is this essential to remember when out in public but also in relation to oneself. It becomes a social responsibility to ensure the use of masks. The World Health Organization had a recent review finding that “the proportion of asymptomatic cases ranged from 6% to 41%”. If you’re unfamiliar with masks themselves here are some key points to remember when purchasing; you want them disposable if possible, it should fit tightly around your nose and mouth, you want layers. Disposable masks though posing an ethical problem in sustainability for some provide a much safer way of resuming everyday life. With the use of a disposable mask users are able to easily rid themselves of any contaminants to which they may have been exposed rather than carrying and spreading possibly harmful materials around with them.
Some of the few specifications WHO makes for masks are that they “should cover the nose, mouth, and chin and be secured with elastic loops or ties, include multiple layers”. Though many are opting for at home masks consisting of a single layer of assorted material, that probably isn’t your best bet in terms of achieving your best possible shot at safety. In terms of layers a significant step up one can take would be a 3 layer, or 3 ply mask. These masks offer great coverage forming around the nose and under the chin, loop around the ears for security and offer a filtering system both from the inside and outside. In essence they offer everything WHO recommends while not poaching from the surgical masks that are so necessary to our healthcare workers. Not to be discounted is the continuing necessity for each of us to maintain social distance. As the public starts to reopen the dynamic can be confusing. Despite the yearning to once again feel comfortable stepping back out into the public, it is still not recommended that we become quite so comfortable. These are the recommendations the Government of Canada is asking Canadians to keep in place “avoiding crowded places, reducing non-essential travel and trips out of your home, keeping 2 metres away from others when outside of your home, commuting outside of the busiest hours if you use public transit, avoiding greetings that include physical contact, such as handshakes, following your local public health guidance on the number of people that can gather in one place at one time.” Though this list can feel limiting the more we are able to abide by these rules, the faster our return to a public life can begin.