Canadians asked to wear non-medical face masks to protect others

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau, health officials on new recommendations for wearing non-medical masks

"Although we don't fully understand their role in transmission, it is an added layer of protection", Dr. Tam said.

Canada has reported more than 81,700 cases of COVID-19, including almost 6,200 deaths.

"In addition, where COVID-19 activity is occurring, use of non-medical masks or face coverings is recommended as an added layer of protection when physical distancing is hard to maintain".

But now, as economies across the country reopen and people begin spending more time outside and in shops, public health authorities are encouraging everyone - particularly in cities such as Montreal with high infection rates - to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

But the prime minister adds that citizens need to do their part in keeping a second wave of infections under control, and that includes wearing a mask when they can not maintain a distance of two metres from others.

"The concept is one, I think, of reciprocal protection", Dr. Tam said.

"We say if they can not wear a mask, they must ensure they're maintaining physical distancing and practising good hand hygiene". "Thinking of it as I am protecting you and you are protecting me".

Tam said the advice coming from her office today is a "specific recommendation", while the previous language was "more permissive".

"For the spring and summer months, strict adherence to the public health basics of physical distancing, handwashing and cough etiquette must continue as the bare minimum", she said.

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"I think we all need to adjust to what works in our circumstances and keep safety at the forefront of what we're doing", he said.

Trudeau said he will be wearing a mask as he walks into Parliament for sittings, but once at his desk in the chamber, where he is two metres apart from other MPs, he plans to take it off. More than 50 countries have made wearing a mask mandatory.

Dr. Tam said some evidence suggests that COVID-19 can be spread by people who aren't showing symptoms.

Trudeau said one of the challenges with the apps so far is that the app has to be open on your phone to work, draining battery.

Trudeau said the government is now working with "number of different partners" on potential contact tracing and exposure notification applications, and that in the coming weeks Ottawa intends to "recommend strongly to Canadians a particular app that will help us manage the spread of COVID-19". That understanding has changed, as it is now known people without symptoms can transmit the virus to others.

"Be very aware of those with different types of cognitive, intellectual disabilities, those who are hearing impaired and others", Tam said.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Friday her department has been working with provinces to make sure they have the materials needed to meet their testing goals, including swabs, reagents, and people to do the work.

The updated policy comes a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will look into the issue of airlines providing travel vouchers instead of refunds for cancelled flights.

"Don't assume that someone who isn't wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn't have an actual reason for it".

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