- In light of concerns around PPE shortages, medical masks should continue to be prioritized for Health Care Workers (HCWs) in direct patient care roles. HCWs should continue to wear medical masks whenever providing direct patient care and whenever social distancing is not possible in health care settings.
- In the community, medical mask use should be prioritized for those with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, as a form of source control. Community caregivers of potentially infectious COVID-19 patients and care providers for those who are more vulnerable to severe infection in the household setting should also wear medical or well-constructed non-medical masks as a form of protection.
- In settings where social distancing cannot be maintained, medical masks or high-quality non-medical masks should be encouraged as a form of protection for those vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection outcomes. Vulnerable populations include those over 60 and those with comorbidities or immunosuppression.
- Evaluation of the extent of community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is required to continually assess the risks and benefits of community mask use in various situations, although there is insufficient evidence to recommend specific epidemiologic thresholds for this purpose. This is consistent with WHO guidance which advises decision makers to apply a risk-based approach focusing on specific criteria when considering or encouraging the use of masks for the general public that incorporates consideration of local epidemiology. The WHO encourages use of a well-constructed non-medical mask, designed according to the available evidence from materials engineering science, as a possible method of reducing risk of transmission of COVID19 when social distancing is not possible. Situations where this may be particularly relevant include: on public transportation, workplaces necessitating close proximity to other workers or the public, or when entering and exiting public buildings.
- In light of widespread interest in masks and anecdotal evidence of potentially harmful, inappropriate use by the public, health officials should widely communicate the need for both optimal mask construction and mask “etiquette”. It is important to strengthen the messaging that their use not replace the need for maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene as more important strategies to prevent transmission of COVID-19; and the need to not touch the mask, to replace when soiled or wet and ensure appropriate laundering. Source and further reading: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16997.aspx#prev