Manitoba mom sews handmade face masks amid coronavirus pandemic

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Manitoba Made group sewing handmade masks for people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The demand for face masks has caused concern among Canadians as shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) rise due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It’s also led a Manitoba mom and former nurse to try her hand at a new skill — creating handmade face masks.

“We don’t know if everything we’re doing will flatten the curve, but I guess I’m just a preparer by nature,” said Liz Kischook.

Liz Kischook, pictured with one of her handmade face masks.
Liz Kischook, pictured with one of her handmade face masks. submitted.

Kischook started sewing the masks for people to use as an added layer of protection because she wanted to help her friends who have immune deficiencies.

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“They’re for people who are concerned and want that extra level of protection,” Kischook said. Her group, Manitoba Made, has sewn roughly 50 masks so far.

But handmade face masks are not perfect, as health officials have issued warnings against using them.

Health Canada’s website advises people to use caution when considering homemade masks to protect against COVID-19.

READ MORE: Will homemade masks protect us from the coronavirus?

The website explains that fabric is not the same as medical-grade material and may not provide complete protection against virus-sized particles.

Kischook says she agrees with Health Canada and doesn’t compare her hand-sewn masks to N95 masks.

“There have been some negative comments, like ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ or ‘you’re creating more harm than good,'” she said.

Face mask made by Liz Kischook.
Face mask made by Liz Kischook. submitted

Kischook explains that each mask she sells comes with an information card, explaining the difference and offering information on proper care of the fabric masks.

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“We do get a lot of people saying, you know, they’re not medical-grade and you need to use them properly,” Kischook said. “I understand that. I used to be a licensed practical nurse.”

READ MORE: Asymptomatic people are reportedly spreading COVID-19. Should everyone wear a mask?

Kischook said the masks can work as a reminder not to touch your face or as a barrier when you sneeze and forget to cover your mouth.

While she is selling the handmade items, Kischook says anyone who is immunocompromised or is a health-care worker can have a mask free of charge.

Face mask made by Liz Kischook.
Face mask made by Liz Kischook. submitted

As for how long Kischook plans to continue making masks, she says it all comes down to being prepared.

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“I hope they’re not needed because I’d rather sit with 50 dozen masks and hand them out to people like construction workers later on than not have enough right now,” she said.