Homemade face masks can protect others, but not you: health officials
WINNIPEG -- The increase in demand for personal protective equipment has led to an increase in demand for homemade face masks.
Monday both the Federal and Provincial Government said there’s a benefit to wearing homemade masks when in public.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer for Canada, said the Special Advisory Committee for COVID-19 concluded wearing a non-surgical mask can help protect those around you, but it doesn’t protect the person wearing it,
“Wearing a non-medical mask in the community does not mean you can back off of the public health measures that we know work to protect you,” said Tam.
She said we can’t “relax” any of our physical distancing efforts, but added people who want to wear masks as an extra precaution can make them out of household items.
”Simple things, not complicated,” said Tam. “If you can get a cotton material like a t-shirt, you cut up, fold it, (and) put elastic bands around it. Those are the kind of facial coverings we’re talking about.”
Some Manitobans have been pulling out the needle and thread to craft homemade face masks.
Grace Webb, the creator of the Facebook page Face Masks for Manitoba, said she got the idea to sew masks and donate them after reading a U.S. article.
She said the idea snowballed and she started the Facebook group so other mask makers could join her.
“From there it became apparent that people wanted to do this but didn’t have material," said Webb. “So I thought, why don’t we (build) a kit we can send to people with everything they need to make mask.”
Webb said she’s donating the masks to care homes and people in the community.
Each mask comes with instructions on how to clean them properly, along with a reminder to practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer for Manitoba said wearing a non-surgical mask is like coughing into your sleeve.
He said he doesn’t want this information about homemade masks to distract from the most important message.
“If you were staying home before, stay home now," said Roussin. “Don’t go out now because somebody has said we can use cloth or non medical masks.”
Webb said she’ll continue to sew homemade masks as long as there’s a need.
“I hope it gives them some comfort and a little bit more security," Said Webb. “I would love to say that we did something to help slow the spread.”