Canada’s top doctor recommends wearing non-medical masks when distancing hard

By Canadian Press	
		Masks problematic for asthmatic autistic hearing-impaired people

Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam outlined the new recommendations while speaking with reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Tam said initially it was believed the novel coronavirus was only spreading from people showing symptoms.

She said if a mask inhibits the ability of someone to breathe in any way, it's recommended to not wear one. That understanding has changed, as it is now known people can transmit the virus days before symptoms show up.

But as people leave their homes to shop in stores and enjoy the warm weather, mask-wearing can help slow the spread of the virus, she said. She did not suggest she regrets recommending against using face masks earlier.

Canada doesn't have a particularly high immunity rate from COVID-19, she said, because most of the population has not contracted the virus.

Trudeau's face mask was on his desk beside him in the chamber. He said he would take it off during the sitting, because he would be a suitable distance from any other MP. Tam said mandatory mask use across Canada doesn't make sense because the risk is far different in the Yukon or Prince Edward Island than it is in Montreal or Toronto. More than 50 countries have made wearing a mask mandatory.

Several businesses in the Lower Mainland have already asked customers to wear masks when entering their premises, including the T&T Supermarket at Coquitlam Centre and several Starbucks locations.

"From our perspective, it is an added layer of protection".

"As soon as I leave my seat and walk past people and walk through potentially busier hallways, I will be wearing a mask", said Trudeau, who wore a black mask as he arrived at the House of Commons for an in-person sitting on Wednesday.

She said that there are some tips to help people with asthma wear a mask.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will fund provinces' efforts to test people for COVID-19, track the contacts of those who test positive, and help different jurisdictions share data.

The prime minister said he wears a mask while walking through the halls of Parliament but that when he sits down to debate, the two-metre distance between him and other MPs is reestablished and he removes the mask. That means "there will be susceptible people, and if they reignite a chain of transmission, you have to jump on that really fast", she said.

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".

Spain is now requiring people to wear masks when in public, but so far most Canadian public health officials have only recommended it be done in circumstances where physical distancing is not possible.

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