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Mask Myths and Facts for Manitobans


Detailed information on proper mask use, storage, handling and washing of non-medical masks can be found at: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/updates/prepareandprevent.html#masks.


Myth: Wearing a non-medical mask will protect me from getting COVID-19.

Fact: Wearing a non-medical mask does not protect the person wearing the mask, but may help protect the people around them.

COVID-19 mainly spreads through close contact (within two metres of six feet) with an infected person’s respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets can be caused by sneezing, coughing, singing or simply talking.
A person who is properly wearing a non-medical mask may reduce the spread of their own respiratory droplets to others and prevent them from contaminating surfaces.


Myth: If I wear a non-medical mask, I don’t need to practice physical distancing or other fundamentals.

Fact: Wearing a non-medical mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19. Masks are simply another tool, especially in indoor public spaces where you may not be able to physically distance.

Manitobans must continue to practice the public health fundamentals to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes staying home when sick, practicing proper hand hygiene (hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer), cough etiquette, and practicing physical distancing.


Myth: If everyone wore a mask, COVID-19 would go away.

Fact: Wearing a non-medical mask alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19.

A non-medical mask is only effective if it is worn properly and fits securely, with no gaps. It should also be made from at least two layers of tightly-woven materials, such as cotton or linen. Detailed information on proper mask use, storage, handling and washing can be found at: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/updates/prepareandprevent.html.


Myth: If I wear a mask, I can go out when I’m sick.

Fact: All Manitobans should stay home if they are sick.

The only exception is if you need to seek urgent medical care or go for COVID-19 testing. In these situations, you should wear a non-medical mask, maintain physical distancing, and practice proper hand hygiene (hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and cough etiquette. Afterwards, you should immediately return home and continue isolating. For more information on what to do when you are sick, visit manitoba.ca/covid19/updates/resources.html#factsheets.


Myth: Wearing a mask improperly is better than not wearing one at all.

Fact: When masks are not worn properly, they will not prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others and may also put the person wearing them at greater risk of infection. Masks can become contaminated by droplets in the air or when you touch them. This is why it’s important to have a properly-fitting mask, to avoid touching your face while wearing it, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you put it on, after you take it off, or if you touch it.

Non-medical masks can become damaged or worn with time or washing, which will reduce its usefulness. Check to make sure your mask is in good condition before putting it on.

Detailed information on proper mask use, storage, handling and washing of non-medical masks can be found at: www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/updates/prepareandprevent.html.


Myth: Everyone should wear a mask, with no exceptions.

Fact: Most people, even those with an underlying medical condition, can safely wear a mask. There is no evidence that wearing a mask will worsen an underlying medical condition and, for example, an individual with asthma or a heart condition can safely wear a mask in most situations.

Like any new routine, practice will help you feel more comfortable and confident. Try using a non-medical mask at home first, and then slowly increase how long you wear it until you can follow provincial guidance on proper mask use. If you are concerned about your ability to safely wear a mask, speak with your health care provider.

However, anyone who cannot wear a mask properly should not wear one. This includes people who are:

  • unable to put on or take off the mask without assistance (for example, due to age, ability or developmental status);
  • actively having breathing difficulties; or
  • under the age of two.

Myth: Non-medical masks are just as good as medical masks that doctors and nurses wear.

Fact: Non-medical masks are not like personal protective equipment (PPE) that doctors, nurses and other health care personnel wear. PPE used in healthcare, such as medical masks, must pass standards and regulations to be used, and staff are trained how to use them properly.