Considerations in the use of homemade masks to protect against COVID-19 - Health Canada

Health Canada is advising the public, as well as healthcare professionals (HCPs) on important considerations for the use of homemade masks to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.

Wearing a non-medical mask or homemade mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it, however, it can be an additional measure to protect others around you. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer advises Canadians to wear a non-medical face mask as an additional measure to help cut down the spread of the novel coronavirus when they are in situations where they can’t ensure proper physical (social) distancing.

Strict hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical (social) distancing, will reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus.

Homemade masks may include those that are:

  • made of cloth e.g., cotton

  • with pockets to insert other masks or filters

  • to be worn over N95 respirators (in an effort to reuse respirators)

Homemade masks are not medical devices, and consequently, are not regulated like medical masks and respirators. Their use poses a number of limitations:

  • they have not been tested to recognized standards

  • they may not provide complete protection against virus-sized particles

  • the edges are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth

  • the fabrics are not the same as used in surgical masks or respirators

  • they can be difficult to breathe through and can prevent you from getting the required amount of oxygen needed by your body

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