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Nutrition / Education / Health & Wellness / Safety & Prevention

Mask wear and care with Dr. Mahin Baqi

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, masks are now required in all indoor spaces for the communities we serve in the Region of Peel and City of Toronto. Along with physical distancing, handwashing and staying home when feeling ill, wearing non-medical masks or face coverings can contribute to slowing community spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Mahin Baqi, William Osler Health System (Osler) Infectious Diseases Specialist, has been providing incredibly valuable guidance and insight to the Osler community throughout the pandemic. We spoke with Dr. Baqi about how to make sure we are all using masks properly to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19.

Why should I wear a mask?

Masks may not protect the wearer, but they prevent the spread of the virus to others.

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets which are produced when an infected person talks, sneezes and coughs. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and can be possibly inhaled into the respiratory tract.

A significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) and could potentially spread the virus to others.

What are the different types of masks used for?

medical mask N95 mask cloth mask
Medical mask (surgical/procedural)
Used in health care settings.
N95 mask
A type of medical mask used by health care professionals in a medical setting for aerosol generating medical procedures, like intubations.
Cloth mask or face covering
For public use in the community and is effective in keeping droplets contained.

Can I wear a face shield?

Face shields do not block the droplets that are produced when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. They should only be worn with a mask and by health care professionals in specific situations in a medical setting.

Which mask should I be wearing when out in public?

Cloth masks or face coverings are the best option for use inside public spaces and in all situations where physical distancing is difficult.

What do I look for in a good cloth mask?

When making or purchasing a cloth mask or face covering, look for:

  • Two layers of tightly woven material (like cotton or linen)
  • A comfortable and secure fit - covers mouth, nose and chin without any gaping or blocking your vision
  • A mask that will maintain its shape after washing and drying

Do’s and don’ts of mask wear and care

  • Wash and dry your mask between each use with other items on the hot cycle
  • Wear your mask only once between washes
  • Put your used mask straight into the wash or in a plastic bag after you are finished wearing it
  • Change your mask as soon as it is soiled or gets wet
  • Remove mask by earlobes without touching the mask itself
  • Always sanitize your hands before and after handling your mask
  • Share your mask with other people
  • Touch your face and mask while wearing it
  • Wear your mask more than once between washes

The bottom line

Your mask protects others and their mask protects you. We are stronger when we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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