B.C. mask mandate extended without a mention of how some face coverings protect better than others

Research from the University of Waterloo demonstrates that N95 and KN95 masks offer much greater protection than surgical masks against the transmission of aerosols

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      Earlier this year, I asked the Ministry of Health why the government doesn't make greater efforts to inform the public about the value of better face masks.

      The inquiry was prompted by two things:

      1. A study by University of Waterloo mechanical-engineering researchers revealing very serious differences in the capacity of masks to block the transmission of aerosols. Slightly more expensive K95 and N95 masks offer far better protection than surgical and cloth masks.

      2. Incontrovertible evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through aerosols. There's a growing list of scientific papers on this, including this one, which appeared in the Lancet last April.

      The Ministry of Health responded to my question by not answering my question. That was roundly criticized by the lead author of the Lancet article, Dr. Trisha Greenhalgh from Oxford University, as well as another author, University of Colorado Boulder atmospheric chemist Jose-Luis Jimenez.

      They each insisted that higher-quality masks can offer greater protection against the virus.

      But their words still don't seem to have had any effect on the Ministry of Health.

      On October 29, Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the mask mandate in all public spaces throughout B.C. It was set to expire on October 31.

      But once again, there was no mention in the news release that surgical and cloth mask—so often worn in B.C., including by cabinet ministers—are not going to do as well as KN95 or N95 masks in protecting against airborne COVID-19.

      As vaccinations gradually become less able to ward off breakthrough infections over time, it's something to keep in mind. Especially now that Henry has lifted all capacity limits at indoor public events, including Vancouver Canucks games at Rogers Arena.

      Dr. Bonnie Henry attended the Vancouver Canucks home opener shorly after she lifted capacity limits for all indoor events.
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