Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili is encouraging Saskatchewan residents to begin wearing cloth masks in public as an additional protective measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Meili held a press conference on Sunday and noted that quickly changing data is showing that masks are an additional safety measure in place in many countries who are flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections.
“We are encouraging people to use masks,” Meili said on Sunday. “The evidence points us in the direction that that’s better than not using masks when you’re out in public and you have to be in contact with others. At the same time, those should be ‘cough masks’, not masks that are identified for healthcare use. And it is not a replacement for other physical distancing measures.”
“I think the story has just become clearer and clearer. As you look at what’s happened in places like South Korea where this has been implemented and was effective. The evidence has moved more and more in that direction, and I think we’re now at a place where I’m comfortable saying yes it’s a good idea for people who are able and who want to do this, put on a mask. It will do more good than harm. So long as it is your own mask, and not a mask that should be in hospital somewhere.”
Meili argues the public has been receiving mixed messages on the use of masks, and highlights developing evidence is showing a role for the wearing of personal masks.
“What we’re learning now, as we look at the science as best we know it to date, that there is a role for the wearing of personal masks in protecting yourself, and probably more importantly protecting those around you. A mask can really help prevent you passing on the virus by coughing or sneezing or other ways of sending out droplets – that that can really be a helpful way of reducing the spread of the virus.”
“As we look around the world at the experiences that have been had in other countries. Also the demand in the public for clear messaging, we really think it is time to have a very simple message that masks are useful, but they should not be taking away masks from healthcare providers.”
Meili has posted a pair of videos on how to make masks (https://youtu.be/bgtYcw0d6jo, https://youtu.be/2Xafl0h-gtI) using items found around the home. He also reminds people of the importance of taking any mask off properly in order to avoid catching the virus which could be stopped in the front of your mask.
He stressed that healthcare masks are for healthcare workers only.
“Essential worker masks should be for folks on the front lines. N95s, that sort of thing, that’s not needed when you’re out and about in public. Surgical masks, the same thing. A cloth mask does the trick.”
Additionally he reminded people interested in using masks that it is only an additional precautionary measure, and it does not replace existing successful recommendations which are in place.
“Having a mask is not a replacement for not shaking hands, washing your hands regularly, staying home, avoiding contact with other people. That is the baseline. This is an addition. It’s an enhancement not a replacement. You still have to keep doing all of those stay at home measures.”