Loading articles...

Masks are the best defense against COVID-19 right now: infectious disease expert

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 9:11 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – Masks will remain mandatory in Calgary for at least another three months, but as we learn more about COVID-19, an infectious disease expert explains if these recommendations will be relevant down the road.

On Monday, City Council voted 11-3 in favour of extending the Face Coverings Bylaw until at least Dec. 14, 2020.

Council said the decision was based on recommendations from public health officials to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Right now masks are one of our best defenses,” said Dr. Craig Jenne with the University of Calgary. “They’re highly effective and if we keep doing this we will be able to keep things such as restaurants and bars open.”

WATCH: Calgary’s mandatory mask bylaw to remain in effect until December

Jenne said, early in the pandemic, health experts based their recommendations on other viruses such as Influenza, adding there wasn’t an understanding of how masks would work to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“As months have gone by and we’ve seen transmission with the novel coronavirus and we know that it’s droplet-based and close contact, the data has evolved and our understanding has evolved.”

While not everyone agrees with wearing a mask, a recent study by the City showed most Calgarians are fine with it as 89 per cent of respondents said they wear a face-covering in public.

“Studies that have looked at the role of masks have shown even simple masks can reduce droplets and transmission by more than six-fold,” added Jenne.

In a release, the City of Calgary said the bylaw could be lifted if the number of infections are at a sufficiently low level, an effective vaccine has been found, or if there is a sudden reversal in the medical advice that face coverings are no longer beneficial to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“If it does get back up to three, 400 cases a day, the risk of introducing it to a long term care facility, the burden of housing patients and treating patients becomes too great and we will have no choice but to bring in more restrictive activities in the community,” said Jenne.