Messages on social media are leading some to believe wearing a mask is helpful as a response to COVID-19. According to Nunavut’s top doctor however, healthy people do not need to wear masks.
“They are not effective and may actually be ineffective or counterproductive,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson, referring to masks.
Wearing a mask often leads to touching the face or playing with the mask. Over hours, it may also become wet, soggy and fall out of place. It does not protect the eyes. These are some of the reasons Dr. Patterson listed for why wearing a mask is “very ineffective and may actually enhance transmission under certain circumstances.”
For healthy customer service workers, the best protection is if sick people stay home.
“That will protect workers far more than wearing masks,” explained Patterson.
“I’m insisting if you’re sick, stay home, he said.
“It’s a matter of protecting the rest of the community and the rest of society.”
Masks are effective if an individual is already sick and starts coughing. They are also effective for health care staff, who are treating sick patients.
Patterson said presently he does not know whether “sewing masks” are effective against COVID-19. He is still making inquires about this issue.
In Iqaluit, several customer service workers, can be seen wearing gloves at the post office and gas station due to COVID-19 concerns.
“A clean hand is better than a dirty glove,” said Patterson.
“It would be far better to be washing hands frequently,” he said, rather than wearing gloves for a lengthy period of time.
Wearing gloves all day without changing them is counterproductive, said Patterson, but did not explain why.
Only if an individual is changing gloves “very frequently” would they be useful, he said. Patterson did not specify what was considered very frequent, but did provide an example. Wearing gloves for a certain task like transferring food is appropriate. However, once the task is completed, the gloves should be thrown out and hands should be washed.