FILE – Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday April 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada looking to disinfect used masks, Dr. Tam asks they not be thrown away

Canadian COVID-19 cases top 14,000

Canada’s public health chief says hospitals should not throw away used masks and other protective equipment because experts are looking to see if they can be disinfected and reused.

Speaking Sunday (April 5), Dr. Theresa Tam said protecting health care workers is one of her top priorities in the COVID-19 pandemic. Tam said there are now at least 14,426 cases of the virus in Canada and 258 deaths.

“The highest proportion of deaths are among those aged 80 or older,” she said. “Keeping seniors safe is a very critical part of what we need to do.”

Tam reminded Canadians that the numbers she provides each morning are only those that have been identified to date, and that everyone needs to act like there are cases in their own community, regardless of what has been reported. More than 323,000 people have been tested so far, with just over four per cent positive for the virus.

When asked about wearing masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, Tam said the most important measures were to physically distance by two metres and to self-isolate. Wearing a mask was an “additional measure” to protect those around you.

“Globally, there is a very much a competitive environment and a shortage environment,” she said.

Speaking to keeping up with mask supplies, Tam said there is work underway looking for the best science that can be used to decontaminate used masks and other equipment.

She says there are companies in Canada with the capacity to do so if the science can be proven.

But she says there is also a signal going to provinces and territories that certain things shouldn’t be thrown away right now so when the science is in place it can be applied immediately.

Tam says disinfecting used equipment is “one of the most worthwhile pursuits” when it comes to personal protective equipment.

READ MORE: Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

The Canadian Press


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