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Public mask program to start in Alberta at the end of the month: Kenney

Alberta COVID-19 update for May 13
WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 5,076 people have recovered from COVID-19 and 120 people have died, as of Wednesday. Julia Wong has the details from the daily update.

The province’s non-medical mask program for Albertans will start at the end of May, according to the premier.

On Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney said that the public mask program, which was first announced last month, will see 40 million masks distributed to residents.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Wearing non-medical masks will help others but not you, Tam says

Kenney said the province expects to receive the non-medical masks in a couple weeks and distribution details will be provided when the program is ready to be launched.

“Let me be clear, there’s no way that we can provide free masks to 4.4 million Albertans for every day — indefinitely,” he said.

“But we will be able to provide a limited number of masks for people for the foreseeable future that can help them if they’re going out, for example, on their weekly grocery shopping visit or if they have to take public transit and they don’t have another face covering.”

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Quebec is asking its residents to wear a mask if they leave their house. Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said her recommendation is for Albertans to wear a mask if they are going somewhere where they will be two metres from another person.

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READ MORE: Face masks as extra barrier to prevent spread of COVID-19 could become more common in Alberta

Hinshaw also stressed that wearing a mask does not replace public health measures.

“Even if someone is wearing a mask, it’s still really important to try and maintain that distancing as much as possible. There may be a mistaken impression that if a group of friends want to get together and have a party, as long as everyone is wearing a cloth mask, they can do so and there’s no problem at all,” she said.

“A cloth mask or a non-medical mask can be helpful to limit the spread of infection from the person who is wearing the mask to others but it isn’t perfect, it is in addition to, and not a replacement for.”

READ MORE: Options on where you can get a non-medical face mask in Edmonton

Guidelines on wearing non-medical masks have been provided by the government and include several health measures people should follow when putting on and taking off the face covering.

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  • You must wash your hands immediately before putting it on, before taking it off and immediately after taking it off
  • It should fit well (non-gaping)
  • Do not share it with others
Raw Artists Canada delivering homemade masks to shelters, crisis centres
Raw Artists Canada delivering homemade masks to shelters, crisis centres

Health officials warn masks can become contaminated on the outside or when touched by your hands. Guidelines for wearing a mask are as follows:

  • Avoid touching your face mask while using it
  • Continue practising good hand hygiene
  • Change a cloth mask as soon as it gets damp or soiled
  • Put it directly into the washing machine or a bag that can be emptied into the washing machine and then disposed of
  • Cloth masks can be laundered with other items using a hot cycle and then dried thoroughly
  • Masks that cannot be washed should be discarded and replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled
  • Dispose of masks properly in a lined garbage bin
  • Don’t leave discarded masks in shopping carts, on the ground, etc.

The province said wearing a non-medical mask, such as a homemade cloth mask, has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, it may be helpful in protecting others.

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With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News.