Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam wears a mask as she waits to answer questions as an update is provided during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam wears a mask as she waits to answer questions as an update is provided during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Third layer’s the charm: Canada’s top doctor unveils new face mask recommendations

World Health Organization recommended wearing filtered, three-layer masks as early as June 12

The country’s top doctor unveiled new recommendations Tuesday for non-medical masks, saying they should be made of at least three layers and stressing their importance as the country heads indoors for winter amid a surging COVID-19 case count.

Face masks should comprise two layers of tightly woven fabric such as cotton or linen, plus a third layer of a “filter-type fabric” such as polypropylene, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“We’re not necessarily saying throw out everything that you have,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference Tuesday.

“The fit is the most important thing,” she said, emphasizing a pinched nose and full coverage of nose and mouth, but also comfort and breathability.

In a departure from news conference habit, the country’s top politicians and doctors wore their masks except when speaking, underscoring the role of face coverage in battling the pandemic as temperatures drop.

“Because it’s winter, because we’re all going inside, we’re learning more about droplets and aerosols. It’s just another layer of protection,” Tam said in Ottawa.

The World Health Organization recommended wearing filtered, three-layer masks as early as June 12, but Tam said face coverings are an area of “evolving science.”

The mask memo came as Ontario reported a single-day record of 1,050 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and 14 new deaths due to the virus.

About 80 per cent of the new cases were in the hot spots of Toronto and the surrounding regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham.

Despite the unprecedented number of daily cases, Premier Doug Ford said he will ease restrictions on the province’s hot spots, in contrast with Quebec’s recent extension of “red-zone” measures.

Ontario rolled out a new tiered system Tuesday that will determine when and to what extent coronavirus restrictions are placed on parts of the province, a move the government said will help fight the pandemic at a regional level.

Areas with the lowest case counts, positivity rates and community transmission levels will fall into a green category with the most permissive rules. The colour-coded system then moves upward through yellow, orange and red with increasingly strict measures, topped off by a grey “lockdown” level where the most stringent protocols would be implemented

The framework goes into effect on Saturday, allowing restrictions previously treated as hot spots including Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa to loosen up. The softer rules mean gyms and cinemas can reopen and indoor dining will resume — with capacity limits — following closures under “modified Stage 2” measures imposed Oct. 10.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 871 new COVID-19 infections and 34 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five that occurred in the previous 24 hours.

The province, which last week prolonged red-zone restrictions until Nov. 23 for 12 of its 19 health regions, said the number of people in hospital rose by 27 to 526, and 85 people were in intensive care, a rise of four.

Governments have struggled to balance health priorities with economic woes and pandemic fatigue as the prospect of social isolation and uncertainty around vaccines adds a bleaker tint to the onset of winter.

On Monday, the federal Liberals tabled a bill that would extend the federal wage subsidy and stop a previously planned slide in the value of payments as concerns over small businesses’ survival prospects escalate.

The bill also creates a new commercial rent-relief program to provide aid directly to businesses. The Liberals’ last version relied on landlords to apply for help, which they didn’t do in great numbers.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is calling for the Liberals to put a pause on federal audits of small businesses hit hard by COVID-19.

He says too many small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to survive during the pandemic, and still have been hit by what he calls unfair audit requests from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Many small businesses, such as restaurants and in the tourism sector have been asking unsuccessfully for months for extra help through the federal wage-subsidy program to keep employees on payrolls, O’Toole says.

“And then the audit process. Can you imagine a small business holding on by a thread and having the tax collector descend on you with an audit? I think it’s horrible. It’s unfair,” O’Toole said during a morning press conference.

— with files from Shawn Jeffords and Jordan Press

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Damien Kurek
MP Damien Kurek reflects on newly-released federal budget

‘Further, they recycle old promises they have consistently failed to deliver on’

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

FILE - Dan Smyers, left, and Shay Mooney from the band Dan + Shay perform on NBC's Today show in New York on June 28, 2019. The duo will perform at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

In this undated photo provided by John-Paul Hodnett are a row of teeth on the lower jaw of a 300-million-year-old shark species named this week following a nearly complete skeleton of the species in 2013 in New Mexico. Discoverer Hodnett says it was the short, squat teeth that first alerted him to the possibility that the specimen initially dubbed "Godzilla Shark" could be a species distinct from it's ancient cousins, which have longer, more spear-like teeth. The image was taken using angled light techniques that reveal fossil features underneath sediment. (John-Paul Hodnett via AP)
‘Godzilla’ shark discovered in New Mexico gets formal name

The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Most Read