PEI

Masks do 'not replace physical distancing,' says Dr. Heather Morrison

As guidelines for the use of masks during COVID-19 continue to vary from province to province, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison clarified the Island's current health recommendations at a Friday afternoon news briefing. 

'There are other things that you can do that are more effective than non-medical masks'

P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office continues to hear questions concerning the use of non-medical masks during COVID-19. (Noreen Kelly)

As guidelines for the use of masks during COVID-19 continue to vary from province to province, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison clarified the Island's current health recommendations at a Friday afternoon news briefing. 

Last week, New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said masks will become "required unless unable," in the next two phases of that province's ease-back plan. 

Russell addressed this later, saying that when physical distancing measures are loosened even further to allow gatherings in two to four weeks, masks could become mandatory in settings where it is impossible to maintain a proper distance. 

The "unless unable" stipulation means masks won't be mandatory for children or people who have health issues that prevent them from wearing a mask comfortably.

"It's very important that you get used to wearing masks," Russell said.

On Monday, New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said masks could become mandatory in the next two to four weeks in areas where physical distancing is not possible such as in shops. (Submitted by Government of New Brunswick)

But for now, it looks like P.E.I. will not be following suit. 

Morrison said the P.E.I. government will continue to emphasize the recommendations of physical distancing, good hygiene and staying at home as much as possible.

"There are other things that you can do that are more effective than non-medical masks," she said. 

"Wearing a non-medical mask in the community does not mean you stop other public health measures that will protect you. A mask does not replace physical distancing." 

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, Morrison said the province will continue to update the language around the use of non-medical masks.

"It's continued to evolve with the science we've learned and what we'll continue to learn about this virus," she said.

"And that advice will change and it should change as we learn more going forward." 

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Sam Juric

Digital Reporter

Sam Juric is a digital reporter with CBC P.E.I. and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

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