Alyssa Milano defends wearing crochet face mask. Which masks are the safest?

Click to play video: 'Non-medical masks — should we wear them or not?' Non-medical masks — should we wear them or not?
WATCH: There's been a lot of back and forth since the COVID-19 pandemic began over whether or not it's beneficial to wear non-surgical masks in public. Does it keep you safer? Does it protect others? Is it necessary? Jessica Nyznik has the answers. – May 21, 2020

Actor Alyssa Milano caught people’s attention over the weekend after posting an image of her wearing a crochet face mask during the coronavirus pandemic.

Milano, 47, tweeted a photo of herself, her husband and her two children — all wearing masks — in their car on Saturday. Although her husband’s mask was a construction mask and her children were wearing cloth masks, Milano’s mask appeared to be crocheted out of yarn.

“Masks keep people safe and healthy. Show me yours!” she wrote in the caption.

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READ MORE: Non-medical masks now recommended for Canadians, officials say

The photo quickly sparked debate amongst her followers, with some wondering whether a crochet mask is effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In response, Milano said, “A**holes, mask has a carbon filter in it. So, yes, it might be crochet but totally safe.”

She followed that with a link to carbon filters available for purchase from Amazon.

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READ MORE: Should you wear a face mask? Coronavirus prompts debate over effectiveness

Since the pandemic began in March, there’s been much debate about whether masks can actually prevent the spread of COVID-19 and if there’s any variation between the kinds of masks available — namely N95, surgical or non-medical, homemade masks.

In Canada, it wasn’t until May 20 that chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam recommended everyone wear a mask ⁠⁠— medical or homemade ⁠— in circumstances where physical distancing isn’t possible.

However, Tam emphasized that wearing a mask does not replace “fundamental” measures for curbing the spread of the virus, like staying two metres apart from people outside your household and washing your hands frequently.

Click to play video: 'Do you still need to practise social distancing when wearing a face mask?' Do you still need to practise social distancing when wearing a face mask?
Do you still need to practise social distancing when wearing a face mask? – May 22, 2020

Health officials on Wednesday said those measures must continue “as the bare minimum” through the spring and summer months and urged that “staying home when sick is a must.”

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According to new guidelines released by Health Canada, when worn properly, a non-medical mask or face covering can “reduce the spread” of infectious respiratory droplets.

Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:

  • allow for easy breathing
  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • maintain their shape after washing and drying
  • be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment
  • be made of at least two layers of tightly-woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)
  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

Non-medical masks or face coverings should not:

  • be shared with others
  • impair vision or interfere with tasks
  • be placed on children under the age of two years
  • be made of plastic or other non-breathable materials
  • be secured with tape or other inappropriate materials
  • be made exclusively of materials that easily fall apart, such as tissues
  • be placed on anyone unable to remove them without assistance or anyone who has trouble breathing

Some masks also include a pocket to accommodate a paper towel or disposable coffee filter, for increased benefit. The guidelines make no mention of using yarn or the crochet technique to make them.

READ MORE: Where to buy face masks online in Canada and how to choose

A number of major retailers, from Starbucks to Whole Foods, are also “requesting” that in-store shoppers use face coverings.

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You’ll also need a mask if you’re planning to board a plane anytime soon. Having a non-medical mask or face covering has been a requirement for air travellers in Canada since April 20.

If you opt for a homemade mask, you should wash it “routinely depending on frequency of use,” according to the CDC.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

⁠— With files from Global News’ Beatrice Britneff & Erica Alini

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