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Coronavirus: Is it pointless to wear a mask with your nose uncovered?

Last Updated Jul 13, 2020 at 12:58 pm PDT

You should cover both your nose and your mouth when wearing a mask, experts say (CityNews Toronto)
Summary

Growing evidence suggests masks reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus

Experts agree: You should cover both your nose and mouth

Leaving your nose uncovered could make you more vulnerable to catching COVID-19

NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are responding to your questions in a segment we call NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.

Question:

James: “I see a lot of [people] wearing masks just covering their mouths, not their noses. Is that effective at all? Should they even bother? Or is it that they might as well not be wearing any masks at all?”

Answer:

In the early weeks of the pandemic, public health officials, including the World Health Organization and B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, were hesitant to recommend the use of masks to the general public.

But that’s changed as evidence that cloth masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 has grown.

Some jurisdictions, including Toronto and California, have mandated the use of masks in public. Henry now says she wears a mask herself and urges everyone who can to do the same, but she has stopped short of requiring them.

“So, I do not believe we’re at the point where we need to mandate it and I don’t believe we have been there,” she said.

But is it worth wearing a mask if you uncover your nose for easier breathing?

Three different COVID-19 experts told NEWS 1130 you should keep that proboscis under wraps.

“Covering only the mouth helps prevent people spreading [the] virus by coughing, but does nothing to prevent transmission from others and seems quite altruistic, some say promotes harmony, but why not protect yourself as well?” UBC medical geographer Ken Denike said.

Dr. David White, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto, said masks need to cover both your nose and mouth to be effective.
“The vast majority of people know to stay two metres apart if not wearing a mask. The problem with wearing one inappropriately is that the person may think it is OK to be closer,” he said.
Dr. Anna Banerji, a professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Toronto said “the nose must be covered … [otherwise] the mask is just for optics.”

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