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New COVID-19 mask guidance comes as B.C. shatters daily case record

People wear face masks as they walk in a city park in Montreal, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

New mask guidance has been released federally and provincially as COVID-19 case counts continue to rise

B.C. reported 425 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday

Public Health Agency of Canada announced new recommendations for three-layer masks earlier this week

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s new record of COVID-19 cases comes alongside new guidance on mask use, both provincially and federally.

On Thursday, the provincial health officer announced 425 cases of the coronavirus, shattering the previous record of 389.

The same day, B.C.’s Ministry of Health issued a directive requiring medical masks be worn in all healthcare settings across the province. That applies to all visitors and workers, with only patients inside their rooms exempt from the rules, which also cover long-term care facilities.

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“This Policy protects patients, clients, clinicians, health care workers, non-clinical staff and the public by outlining provincial expectations for the use of face masks in all health care facilities, programs, and services, including community physician offices and outpatient clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the directive reads, adding facilities must provide medical masks.

This comes days after the Public Health Agency of Canada announced new recommendations for three-layer masks.

“Well-designed and well-fitting masks or face coverings can prevent the spread of your infectious respiratory droplets. They may also help protect you from the infectious respiratory droplets of others,” the agency says.

Related video: How COVID-19 has highlighted Canada’s inequities: One-on-one with Dr. Theresa Tam

The three-layer masks should include two layers of tightly woven fabrics, like cotton or linen, with a third, or middle, synthetic layer to act as a filter.

The World Health Organization has recommended three-layer masks since June.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says masks should still be combined with other measures like hand washing and physical distancing. However, she says if you must be near another person, mask up.

“If people are sitting together in an enclosed space, whether that’s carpooling to work together, whether that’s sitting in the lunchroom together, having a break together in a small, enclosed space,” she explains. “There is a continuum of how people are exposed to this virus, and we get it from breathing in droplets that someone has coughed out. And those droplets can be of various sizes.”

-With files from Marcella Bernardo